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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

I was with the hon. Lady nearly to the end, but not quite to the end. I am conscious that although the point that the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford made a minute or two ago is right—we should allow ourselves a couple of days to do what should have been done over a couple of years—we are also under very considerable time pressure. There is a reality in the situation, which is that on 11 April, we will hit the buffers. Therefore, we should not spend too much time debating the process. We should, if possible, move forward on the basis that there is sufficient consensus about the process not to have to debate it, and get on with the substance. To that end, it would be sensible if we began this process by allowing Members who wish to put forward alternatives to do so. There are groups of people who support, for example, a people’s vote as a confirmatory process or otherwise, Norway plus, or the propositions hitherto put forward by the Opposition. We need to let those Members formulate their propositions in their own terms, in the ordinary way.

You have a long record, Mr Speaker—previous Speakers have also had a long record—of finding a way of selecting for debate amendments that carry sufficient weight in terms of numbers, cross-party support and so on. That is a perfectly proper process to use. It does not involve any one of us tilting the playing field, and it enables us to proceed without too much further debate about process.