UK’s Withdrawal from the European Union

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 4:19 pm on 14th March 2019.

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Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union) 4:19 pm, 14th March 2019

I want to say a few words about the legal advice from the European Parliament. I have great respect for the deputy Prime Minister, but I have concerns about the representation that he has made of the legal advice that he has received on the question of whether the European Parliament elections do or do not need to take place. I simply restate that in the legal advice I have seen it is the case that, if the UK did not hold elections, the new European Parliament could validly be constituted. That seems to me to be in complete contradiction to what the deputy Prime Minister said earlier. I hope that when the Minister responds he will clarify what the Government’s position is on that.

The spokesman for the official Opposition, Keir Starmer, said that he thought there were people here who were pushing a people’s vote amendment for “another reason”. I do not think he specified what that reason was, but I am pushing a people’s vote, as are many of the people here today, because we want there to be a people’s vote and we want people to support that. This will be the opportunity to do that and, frankly, we are running out of time in which to express support for a people’s vote. That is the only reason we are doing this.

I wonder whether there is any sense of humility or embarrassment from leading Brexiteers about the chaos and political maelstrom that they have created. This is their responsibility through and through. They cannot blame remainers, civil servants, the weather or the Turks—they cannot even blame their nanny. The blame rests fairly and squarely on their shoulders. This is chaos that they have created.