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

I will come to that, but I am grateful to my hon. Friend for conceding that it was always infantile to pretend that there was no risk of getting into the backstop, because that was, for a long time, the contention of those who proposed that the backstop should be instituted.

I am afraid that this deal has now reached the end of the road. If it is rejected tonight, I hope that it will be put to bed and we can all face up to the reality of the position and the opportunity that we have. What we need to do then—now—is to behave not timorously but as a great country does. We have broadly two options. We can either decide, if the EU is unwilling to accept the minor changes that we propose, that we will leave without a deal—yes, I accept that that is, in the short term, the more difficult road, but in the end it is the only safe route out of this and the only safe path to self-respect—or we can decide to take a route that will end in humiliation by accepting arrangements with the EU that seem to limit disruption in the short term but will leave us as an EU protectorate with many important rules set elsewhere.

Members have asked, “What’s the worst that could happen?” I will give two examples, but there is any number of rules and regulations. The financial services industry would be subject to laws set by its leading competitors, which is emphatically not what the City wants. The Commission has already made clear that it wants to use the passerelle clause of the existing treaty to bring in qualified majority voting on taxation. We would be subject to that, under a qualified majority vote in which this country would not participate. I urge Members to think hard and to see that that predicament would be democratically intolerable. We would have to tell our constituents that they had no power or influence in setting some of the rules that govern our country.