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Article 50 Extension

Part of Destitution Domestic Violence Concession (Eligibility) – in the House of Commons at 3:19 pm on 20th March 2019.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 3:19 pm, 20th March 2019

The immediate concern is that the Prime Minister does not appear to be acting in accordance with her own motion of last week, but the deeper problem, which is what I am most concerned about, is that the Prime Minister still thinks that the failed strategy of the past two years, “My deal or no deal”—a blinkered approach with no changes and no room for Parliament—should be pursued for another three months. In other words, all she will do is use the three months in exactly the same way to bring back the deal over and over again—or as many times as she can without breaching the rules of the House—and try to force it through. That is the strategy that she has been pursuing throughout these negotiations and it has failed badly. We must not allow another three months to be used up on the same approach.

The letter sent by the Prime Minister this morning makes two requests to the Council—that it approves the documents agreed in Strasbourg on 11 March, and that it allows three months for the Prime Minister to get the same deal through Parliament. If I have read and understood the letter properly, I think the Prime Minister may be planning to bring the deal back on the basis that the documents that were before us last time have now been approved formally at the Council, and that some domestic arrangements have been agreed with possibly other parties, which means that she can then say that the deal can now be put to another vote, notwithstanding the fact that the documents on the table are exactly the same as the ones that we voted on last week. Obviously, that will raise the issue as to whether that is in accordance with the Standing Orders of the House, which will have to be addressed at the time.

The letter continues,

“it remains my intention to bring the deal back to the House.”

That is not a new deal, but the same deal. That is extraordinary, given how the House voted last week. It does not reflect the motion that was passed. Paragraph (2) of the motion clearly mentioned a short technical extension if the deal was passed by today—that was when the Prime Minister had the intention of bringing the deal back for today—or a longer extension if that was not the case.