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European Union (Withdrawal) Act

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:00 pm on 25th March 2019.

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Photo of Oliver Letwin Oliver Letwin Conservative, West Dorset 7:00 pm, 25th March 2019

My right hon. and learned Friend is asking what is clearly one of the right questions. I give him two answers. The first is that, if this amendment is passed, we will need to think very seriously over the next 24 hours about the shape of the business of the House motion to determine the process for Wednesday, and indeed about how the process will carry forward beyond that. My own view is that, at least to begin with, it may be wiser simply to disclose where the votes lie on a plain vanilla basis—this point was made very forcefully a few moments ago—with all the voting going on at once, with pink slips in the Lobby at the end of the debate and not sequentially so that we do not have the gaming of sequence. On that basis we could discover which propositions that have been put forward commanded significant support and which did not. We should do so in the hope that, as politicians—we should remind ourselves that we are not just an ordinary electorate, but politicians who have spent our lives in this business—we can, in the succeeding few days, having observed the lie of the land, zero in on a compromise that could get a majority.

My second answer is that I do not at all discount the possibility that, at a later stage—I am sure that there will have to be a later stage, and indeed I hope that the business of the House motion will book a slot for a later stage—we should resort to some other method to crystallise the majority if we find that it is otherwise difficult to do.