Uk’S Withdrawal from the European Union

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:27 pm on 13th March 2019.

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Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper Chair, Home Affairs Committee 5:27 pm, 13th March 2019

I have listened to the hon. Lady, and I have to say that I still support that amendment, which I think is the right amendment. I think we should hear the views of the House and the view of the International Trade Secretary, but my personal view is that, if that amendment is pushed to a vote, I will certainly vote for it. The International Trade Secretary needs to make this clear. We do not want any fudging about this, because it is really important. We are today ruling out no deal on 29 March. That has to be the purpose of our vote, with support for it from all parts of this House.

We will then need to move to the issue of what happens tomorrow on the extension of article 50. That has to be an extension for a purpose. It cannot simply be for more of the same, with the Prime Minister going back to Brussels, saying the same things about changing the backstop and having the same discussions we have already had many times before. We cannot just have the same meaningful vote on the same things when they have been rejected, so it has to be for something different. I would say to the Government that I think they should now put forward a timetable and a process to make some proper decisions on what the future partnership will look like. We still have no idea whether this is going to be Norway or Canada, or nearly Norway or close to Canada. We have no idea, and the Government have never come forward with that so that we can have proper debates and proper clarification.

Two big failings underlie what the Government have done: they have never sought consensus—the Prime Minister has never sought consensus and never sought to build agreement—and the Prime Minister has never sought clarity. She has deliberately sought a political declaration which simply fudges the future and gives us no clarity. We need clarity and we need consensus. That is why we should have a series of indicative votes. The Government should themselves put forward their own negotiating mandate for the future partnership and the future relationship, which we can then again have votes on and amend. That would actually give this House the chance to make some decisions about how we get clarity on the way forward, and also about how we get consensus on the way forward.

Whatever our different views about what the right position should be, I hope that this whole House can come together to rule out no deal. The Government’s basic responsibility is to keep this country safe, to make sure people can afford their food bills and to make sure that those who are sick can get their medicines. All of those are put at risk if there is no deal, and we should reject it tonight.