European Union (Withdrawal) Act

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 6:31 pm on 25th March 2019.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 6:31 pm, 25th March 2019

I agree with that because otherwise we inhibit the likelihood of finding a majority. Therefore, that will require careful thought going into Wednesday.

Let us assume, for the moment, that we can find a process that most Members are content with and that we can then move towards a majority view. It may take some time. I, for one, am troubled by the idea that, in one afternoon, all of this can be solved. It may be that all we can do is start down a process of finding a majority. It would be wrong to rush at this at this stage of the exercise. But assuming that can be done, it raises the million-dollar question: if the House does find a majority, will the Government accept the result?

I understand and respect the position of the Prime Minister, who says, “I need to know what the options are and what the result is before I can answer that question.” I understand the logic of that and it is a fair point, but what I do not want is—wrapped up in that perfectly reasonable, logical answer—to find, in a week or two, or whenever it may be, that whatever outcome is agreed upon by a majority it will never be accepted by the Government and we are back to where we started. That is my concern about the exercise. So when the Government say they will go into it in good faith, that has to mean that, if there is a majority, the Government will look very seriously at supporting where that majority view is and not simply rule it out. The red lines are the very thing we are trying to break. If the Government apply their own red lines to any outcome and say, “It does not fit our red lines”, there is not much point going through the exercise in the first place because it is precisely to remove those red lines that we are going forward.