European Union (Withdrawal) Act

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 5:18 pm on 12th March 2019.

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Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Conservative, Uxbridge and South Ruislip 5:18 pm, 12th March 2019

It is a great pleasure to follow Mr Howarth. I have known him for many years and I do not doubt his sincerity in this matter at all. I myself had sincerely hoped that the Government would be able to make the wholly modest changes that this House urged them to make, and that there would be no risk that this country would find itself trapped in the backstop or that we would lose our democratic right to make laws for this country and pass them to a foreign entity for all time, as we are in danger of doing.

But whatever the Government tried to do, they have not, I am afraid, succeeded. Though I congratulate the Prime Minister and the Attorney General on their efforts, the result is that, like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, they have sewed an apron of fig leaves that does nothing to conceal the embarrassment and indignity of the UK. As the Attorney General confirmed in his admirably honest advice, the backstop does not just divide our country in fundamental ways—it ties our hands for the future and sets us on a path to a subordinate relationship with the EU that is still, despite what we were told yesterday, clearly based on the customs union and on large parts of the single market.