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

No. I apologise to hon. Friends and Opposition Members who wish to intervene, but I have given way many times, and I have tried to be fair to Members of all political parties represented in this House. I want to speak on the amendments, conclude my remarks and let other right hon. and hon. Members speak.

If I may, I will turn first to amendment (h) in the name of Dr Wollaston. It requests an extension of article 50 for the defined purpose of holding another referendum on whether to remain in the European Union. I do not think it will come as a surprise to the hon. Lady if I say that the Government’s position is well rehearsed. I respect the persistence of her and others who have tabled similar amendments putting forward this proposition, but I do not believe another referendum offers the solution that we need. Rather, it would reopen the divisions established in the 2016 campaign, and would damage what is already a pretty fragile trust between the British public and Members of this House. Our obligation, first and foremost, is to honour the mandate given to us in that first vote, which was to leave the European Union, and that is why the Government are focused on honouring that mandate in a smooth, orderly way.