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. I have said on a number of occasions that the Labour party supports a public vote and I played a very large part in the conference motion, but today is about the question of whether article 50 should be extended and whether we can find a purpose. [Interruption.] Hear me out, it is a very serious question and a very serious challenge, and I need to answer it. The right hon. Lady will know that many colleagues, in and out of this place, absolutely supportive of the cause that she supports—namely, a people’s vote—vehemently disagree with this amendment being tabled and voted on today.

The People’s Vote campaign—it is pretty clear where it stands—has issued a formal statement of its position, today, in response to amendment (h). It says that it has made it clear that it does not regard today as “the right time” to press the case for the public to be given a final say—[Interruption.] I am just answering the question—I am answering it fully and I want to do it properly. This is the People’s Vote campaign issuing a statement in response to this amendment:

“Instead, this is the time for parliament to declare it wants an extension of”— the “article 50” Brexit deadline—

“so that, after two-and-a-half years of vexed negotiations, our political leaders can finally decide on what Brexit means.”

That is the official position of the People’s Vote campaign.

In addition, this will be the first time—[Interruption.] I am going to complete this answer. This will be the first time, I think, that I have quoted Alastair Campbell from the Dispatch Box. Whatever we could or could not say about Alastair Campbell, we cannot doubt where he stands on a people’s vote. He said today that it is:

“Wrong to press @peoplesvote_uk amendment…when the issue is”— essentially about “extension. I think” it is the

“wrong time and I fear the wrong reasons”—

[Interruption.] I am going to complete the answer. [Interruption.] I am going to complete the answer. Those pressing this amendment seem to be out of step with the vast majority of co-campaigners who are campaigning for exactly the same point. They may genuinely have a difference of opinion, but we will not be supporting amendment (h) tonight.