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European Union (Withdrawal) Act

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:37 pm on 25th March 2019.

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Photo of Matt Rodda Matt Rodda Shadow Minister (Transport) (Buses) 9:37 pm, 25th March 2019

It is a pleasure to follow Peter Grant. I rise to speak in favour of amendments (f), (a) and (d). This country, and indeed this House, now face a very serious situation and a very substantial challenge. At this crucial time, with just a few days to settle the issue of Brexit—an issue that, as we all know, the Government have been unable to resolve for the last two years—we have to find a way through the impasse.

We have had months of delay, with the Government kicking the can down the road, putting off the inevitable, delaying reality and trying to pretend that their shabby deal was the only way of resolving Brexit. That is even though the proposed deal would have resolved only the withdrawal agreement with the EU and, indeed, offered only 22 pages of non-legally binding text to outline the whole of our future relationship with the EU. In other words, it set up several years—possibly six or even 10 years—of further botched negotiations, when the UK would have been in a very weak negotiating position.

Given the weakness of the Prime Minister’s deal, it was not surprising that it was rejected by both ardent leavers and those with deep concerns about Brexit. I sincerely hope that we have now moved on beyond the charade of this Government trying to put the same deal back to Parliament again and again. That is why it is time for Parliament to take control of this process.

As you know only too well, Mr Speaker, in a parliamentary democracy, when a Government lose the good will and support of a majority in Parliament, they should rethink their approach. That is what I hope will happen tonight. It is my sincere hope and belief that we have a real opportunity to break this dreadful impasse. It is now incumbent on the Government to listen to MPs and the millions of people who marched on Saturday. I urge Ministers to listen and consider the very real merits of thinking again. It is time for indicative votes, including on a confirmatory referendum. We have to put this serious matter back to the people, and the Government have to fundamentally rethink their approach.