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European Union (Withdrawal) Act

Part of the debate – 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 have, not least because my hon. Friend raised it with me last week. The difficulty is that the EU argues that, once the withdrawal agreement and political declaration are agreed, we cannot, through domestic legislation, change the terms of those documents. Therefore, whatever amendment is put down to the legislation, it could not alter the terms of the political declaration. So it is not accurate to say that all of this could be swept up with the implementation Bill, because the words in the document that we are seeking to implement have to be the ones that the House is happy with and thus has agreed before we get to that stage. Some things could be dealt with in the implementation Bill—I do not quarrel with that—but the EU will not countenance this House changing the terms of the EU’s agreement through amendments to the Bill. That was one of the concerns the Government rightly put in relation to the meaningful vote. When we were saying that there should be amendments to the meaningful vote, the Government’s position was that we cannot really have amendments because this House cannot amend the substance of the document.