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

I am just going to make some progress before I take any more interventions.

After voting as we did in last week’s debate, we recognise that an extension to article 50 is now needed, and it is the failure of the Prime Minister’s approach that has caused the requirement for an extension. Of course, any extension should be as short as possible, but it has to allow a solution to the mess that the Prime Minister has got the country into—to provide a route to prevent no deal, not to make it more likely. It also has to provide a way for this House to prevent the Prime Minister from forcing the same deal on us over and over again. That is why we believe that the focus in the coming days and weeks should be on finding a majority for a new direction—to allow the House to consider options that can resolve the current crisis.

For Labour, that centres on two basic propositions: a close economic relationship with permanent customs union and single market alignment; and a public vote with credible leave options and a remain option. Those propositions, and possibly others, need to be discussed and tested, and we need to come to a consensus to see whether we can move forward. That is what extension should be about, not about the narrow interests of the Conservative party and trying to keep the Prime Minister in post.

Thank you again, Mr Speaker, for allowing this debate today. I look forward to hearing the Secretary of State explain the Government’s approach and how they plan to prevent Parliament from going back to the same place in three months’ time.