Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:19 pm on 27th March 2019.

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Photo of Oliver Letwin Oliver Letwin Conservative, West Dorset 1:19 pm, 27th March 2019

My right hon. Friend, who is one of the two or three most distinguished and long-serving Members of Parliament and had a distinguished record in government, knows as well as I do that he is absolutely right: only the Government of the United Kingdom can negotiate with foreign powers. That is obviously true. It is also true, however, that the Government, like the rest of us, are governed by the law. Just as much as any private individual, Ministers are governed by the law. It frequently happens that, when Ministers bring legislation before the House of Commons and that legislation is amended in a way that they did not wish, they are still compelled to implement the law that the House and the House of Lords have passed as it is written. That is a justiciable matter and they are subject to judicial review if they do not do so. Now, I have said frequently that I do not think the Prime Minister’s Brexit strategy has been ideally suited to the task, but I have never met an hon. Member of this House, or any other living human being, who is more law abiding than the Prime Minister, so I am certain that she would follow not just the letter but the spirit of the law were there a law that flowed from a majority view of the House of Commons.