European Union (Withdrawal) Act

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 5:37 pm on 12th March 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb Conservative, Preseli Pembrokeshire 5:37 pm, 12th March 2019

My hon. Friend makes an important point. The fact is that being in the backstop is not a happy or comfortable arrangement either for the EU side or for our side. It is not the long-term objective of the negotiators on the EU side—I genuinely believe that. Again, I return to what I described as the conspiracy theory of entrapment—that somehow we are being lured into an arrangement that we will never be able to get out of. This is just one more stage in a very long process to come.

I recall one particular leaflet that was delivered to every household during the referendum campaign. One of the warnings in it, among some of what many of my colleagues would regard as scaremongering, was a prescient one of the potential of 10 years or more of negotiation and wrangling over what Britain’s future relationship would be with the EU. It feels very much as though here we are in year three, and we are still in the baby steps of quite a long process. If colleagues of mine want to see quicker, more purposeful progress, they will support the deal this evening.

Finally, I do a lot of mountain climbing in Scotland and in Wales. Every year, people set off on a sunny day up mountains wearing a pair of trainers, armed with a slice of Kendal mint cake, thinking that they are going to get to the summit. They get up there, the weather is not as good as they wanted, they do not have a map and they are not equipped properly. They might argue among themselves about what the right direction is, and eventually they need rescuing off the mountain. It feels a bit like that is perhaps where we are heading, but mountain rescue is not going to come for us. The solution to get off the mountain is in our hands, and that solution is to pass the deal tonight.