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Article 50 Extension

Part of Destitution Domestic Violence Concession (Eligibility) – in the House of Commons at 5:11 pm on 20th March 2019.

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Photo of Alison McGovern Alison McGovern Chair, Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art 5:11 pm, 20th March 2019

I will take your advice, Mr Speaker. I have no intention of detaining the House any longer than necessary, particularly because this has possibly been the most frustrating debate that I have sat through in nine years in this House. I find myself very angry, which is not to say that it is not an honour and a pleasure to follow Mr Grieve. Some people in this House say that lawyers do not make very good politicians. He just proved them wrong. I agree with so much of what he said and his analysis of what the Prime Minister has tried to do to this House.

I want to start by reflecting on a sign that I saw one of the protesters holding outside this place last week, which said, “Parliament versus the people”. Is that not the message that we heard earlier from the Dispatch Box? Is that not what was said? Are we being told that we are frustrating the will of the British people? I say, that way populism lies. If we undermine the ability of Members of this House to deliberate, listen to each other, form a view, vote and take decisions, we open the door to the kind of behaviour that we are seeing right across the developed world, and it is dangerous. We can believe in democracy and letting people have their say at the same time as recognising that this House is entitled to express its view, and when it does so, it should be listened to by the Executive. I will talk more about that later.

Today’s debate has arisen out of frustration because of astounding events overnight. The Government have decided—as they had to, because the House has not supported their proposal for how to deal with Britain’s exiting of the European Union—that now is the time to delay the exit day that they set for us. As Members have said, we received a copy of the Prime Minister’s letter to President Tusk during the House’s proceedings—we find out what is happening from the media, and then we see a copy of the letter during the House’s proceedings.