We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

European Union (Withdrawal) Act

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:31 pm on 25th March 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

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

I could not agree more. It is a matter of record that the Prime Minister did not want a vote even on triggering article 50, on which we got a vote only because of a Supreme Court decision. She did not want a meaningful vote, which we got, in the teeth of the Government whipping against it, only because we won a vote. It is true that, every time, the Government have whipped strongly against any amendments about objectives, including a very controversial whipping exercise in the summer that threw up a debate about maternity leave. The idea that the Government have been genuinely open to debate, and have been willing to listen to where the House is, is just not true. We really should have gone through this exercise two years ago, but I understand the argument that we are where we are and we now have to find a way forward, which is why we support amendment (a).

If we are to find a way forward, we need to be clear about what we are not prepared to do. There is no way forward that includes blaming Members of this House for the mess we are in. There is no way forward that includes whipping up a sense of the people versus MPs. There is no way forward based on the notion that Members on either side of the House who persistently and forcefully advance their views, whatever those views may be, are indulging in some kind of illegitimate exercise—they are not. They are making important points on behalf of their constituents and in the national interest. They are doing their job.

I heard the Prime Minister say earlier that she did not intend her comments last week to have that effect, and I am not sure what I am more concerned about: that she made the comments, or that she did not appreciate how they would be heard in the environment in which we live. Nor can we find a way forward based simply on the proposition of putting and reputting the same meaningful vote. The fact that we are even discussing meaningful vote 3, or even meaningful vote 4, only has to be said to be seen to be absurd. The deal has been roundly rejected twice. We now need to move on, and I hope we can begin that process tonight.