UK’s Withdrawal from the European Union

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 12:33 pm on 14th March 2019.

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Photo of David Lidington David Lidington Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister of State (Cabinet Office) 12:33 pm, 14th March 2019

I am not going to give way again for a while, Mr Speaker, because when I spoke in the Chamber about a week ago, you gently chided me for having gone on for too long, and when I looked at Hansard it was because I had perhaps taken too many interventions. I think I have given way a fair number of times already today.

I want to put on the record—because I think this will help to clarify the nature of the choice for hon. Members on all sides of the debate—that article 50 of the European treaties does say, in terms, that the treaties “cease to apply” to the departing member state

“from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification” of triggering article 50. In other words, it is the sooner of the conclusion and entering into force of the withdrawal agreement, and the two-year deadline. Logically it therefore follows that, were an extension of any length to be negotiated and agreed, it would always be possible for the House and the other place to bring about an earlier conclusion to that extension than the specified deadline by agreeing to a withdrawal agreement at that earlier date.