UK’s Withdrawal from the European Union

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 1:38 pm on 14th March 2019.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 1:38 pm, 14th March 2019

I am grateful for that intervention, because it follows up on a theme I was trying to advance yesterday: how we go forward from here depends on the attitude of the Prime Minister and of the Government. At this stage, what I think a majority in the House want is a Prime Minister who says, “I now recognise that my deal has been heavily defeated twice, and in the spirit of finding a way forward I will drop my red lines and come up with a process by which the House can express views as to an alternative way forward.” If we cannot do that—this is the point I was trying to make yesterday—and if the Prime Minister does not facilitate that and put that process forward, the only thing that the House can do is try to force it on her, and that has constitutional ramifications.

I am not saying that that cannot be done, and I am not saying that it should not be done. It may have to be done, but—and this is a serious point for the Government —I think it would be better if the Prime Minister were to say today that she would in fact play her part in whatever the process needs to be to find a majority. I think that would be the first step forward. I said yesterday and I say it again: I actually think that should have happened two years ago, but that is as may be. Otherwise, we risk simply setting another clock ticking that then dictates in exactly the same way what happens—whether it is months or weeks, or however long it is. If we just do this all by a clock and without a purpose, we will not get anywhere.