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European Union (Withdrawal) Act

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:46 pm on 25th March 2019.

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Photo of Margaret Beckett Margaret Beckett Chair, National Security Strategy (Joint Committee) 7:46 pm, 25th March 2019

It is, as ever, a great pleasure to follow Sir Nicholas Soames, although I should perhaps place on record that I totally disagree with what he and Sir Oliver Letwin said on one issue, because I feel that the only way we will resolve this situation peacefully and in a way that brings people together is by going back to the people for confirmation of whatever decision this House makes. Otherwise, I fear we will be seen as engaging in an establishment stitch-up, thinking of something that we will then foist on the people. It is essential to seek their view.

I am very conscious that today’s is a crowded agenda. Amendment (f), standing in my name and those of others on both sides of the House, is so straightforward that it practically speaks for itself, so I intend to be brief. I am also mindful of how many others want to speak.

I recognise, of course, that the House has voted on more than one occasion against the UK leaving the EU without a deal; indeed, the Prime Minister has acknowledged that. I am also well aware that there are nevertheless Members who feel that, whatever the evidence to the contrary, leaving with no deal would not cause us major problems, and that there are even some who actively support our leaving without a deal or at least regard it as a desirable outcome. Surely, however, few if any believe it would be desirable that the UK should not make such a decision but drift or fall into it by inadvertence—almost by accident. That would be the very definition of irresponsibility.

We still have a very tight timetable, which presently encompasses, in addition, a potential recess period. As I said, my amendment is extremely simple and straightforward. It seeks to ensure that the UK can leave the EU without a deal only with the explicit consent of the House of Commons.