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European Union (Withdrawal) Act

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:24 pm on 25th March 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Gethins Stephen Gethins Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) 7:24 pm, 25th March 2019

But I am not sure that there are many who will disagree with me when I say that it is not working very well, is it? How is that attempt to avoid a Tory civil war going? Does the Minister want to intervene now? No, I did not think so, because there is a full-blown civil war in his party. And this is a Tory party determined to take the rest of us down as well, but today’s amendments give us the chance—for the moment—to stave off that opportunity that the Tories are trying to give us.

The Prime Minister continues to appeal to the hardliners in her own party, rather than to face up to the reality of minority government, but this is a lost cause. The Brexiteers who campaigned without any sort of plan are the ones who got us into this mess. And, frankly, the message to the Prime Minister must be that they are unlikely to get us out of it. Now, it is not for me to judge Conservative party management—the voters will have their opportunity to do that in due course—but what strikes me is just how in thrall this Conservative Prime Minister is to the extremists in her own party. With that, I want to praise some Conservative Members, because there are Members who I disagree with and who disagree with me, but who have stuck their necks out, and look at the way they have been treated.

Nick Boles, who is in his place, and I disagree over plenty, including Brexit; he wants us to leave the European Union and I do not. Some Members have tried to make positive proposals, although we do not always agree on them. But even when one of those proposals is accepted by the Government—as was the case with the amendment tabled by Alberto Costa—we are now in a situation whereby the hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford finds himself deselected and the hon. Member for South Leicestershire finds himself sacked, yet all along—I disagree with them over this—they have backed the Prime Minister’s deal. What does that tell us about trying to find some kind of consensus or trying to reach across? This is a Government who are in thrall to the very extremes, and this House cannot put up with that any longer. Just look at the invitation list of those who were treated to lunch at Chequers: the very people voting against the Prime Minister. This tells us everything about a Prime Minister who has lost control of her own party and who has dragged us into this folly.