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Article 50 Extension

Part of Destitution Domestic Violence Concession (Eligibility) – in the House of Commons at 6:13 pm on 20th March 2019.

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Photo of Sarah Jones Sarah Jones Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government) (Housing) 6:13 pm, 20th March 2019

It is our job as MPs to speak the truth as we see it and to defend the interests of our country and of our constituents—in my case the people of Croydon. It is very hard to find the words to express the horror, the incredulity and the fear that those of us on these Opposition Benches and many, many on the Government Benches feel at the situation in which we find ourselves. There are nine days until we are due to leave the EU and we have no plan. The Prime Minister’s deal has been voted down in historic proportions twice, and yet she has written today to the European Council setting out her intention to try to get it through for a third time. We know, of course, that the Prime Minister’s deal was rejected because it is deeply flawed. The Financial Times said yesterday that

“although Ms. May’s package is often called a deal it is little more than a standstill agreement. She has bought 21 months of armistice in return for an indefinite continuation of the conflict.”

And we know that if her deal did pass, she would be replaced, most likely by an even more hard-line leader who would take us even further into isolation and economic decline.

The Prime Minister’s deal is something that this House could not agree to; it has no legitimacy and it does not have our support. Donald Tusk has confirmed this afternoon that, in his view, a short extension should be conditional on the Prime Minister’s deal passing, so it is clear that the Prime Minister will try to run down the clock, and blackmail, cajole and threaten us into voting for her deal in order to avoid no deal. But it is also clear that this House will not be bullied into voting to make our constituents poorer.

In her short time in this post, the Prime Minister has done irrevocable damage: to the basic principles of democracy, trust and integrity in this place; to our reputation around the world, which was so great when we hosted the Olympics in 2010, but is so trashed now; to our economy, as business shies away from investment, fearful of what she will do next; and to our constituents, who suffer from low pay, a cheap state and the politics of cut and care nothing.

This is very much a live situation, with the Leader of the Opposition in talks with the EU, trying to decide the best course of action, and the Prime Minister apparently ready to make a statement tonight. But we have nine days to avoid no deal, and avoid it we must. The Prime Minister must change course, shift her position and work across the House to find a solution; she must listen to the Father of the House and hold a series of indicative votes; and she must consider the best compromise in town, the Kyle-Wilson amendment. The Prime Minister must put country before party and, at this eleventh hour, do the right thing. If she does, we will all thank her for it.