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 have not had the pleasure of reading that legal opinion. However, there is a critical difference between the scenario that we are describing in respect of the United Kingdom and that of Croatia in the case that my hon. Friend describes. In that case, Croatia was a third country in the process of joining the European Union, and the treaties allow accession states to go through a transition process. What she has described was part of that transition process embodied in the accession treaty negotiated by Croatia with the existing states of the European Union. In the case of the United Kingdom, we are talking about us beginning to move from being a full member of the European Union with both the rights for citizens and the obligations that go with that full European Union membership. Without treaty change, there is not a legal mechanism that simply allows those rights for EU citizens to be set aside. That is the brutal truth that this House needs to recognise.