Eu: Withdrawal and Future Relationship (Motions)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:02 pm on 27th March 2019.

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Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Father of the House of Commons 4:02 pm, 27th March 2019

No, I will not.

That is the basis on which I tabled motion (J), and I commend it to the House. Members may prefer a different motion; I shall vote for several. I think that we should all vote for as many of the motions as we can, and then we will see which is the strongest. We will not be dismissed by the more fervent members of the Government saying that they have all been defeated, and none of them secured an individual majority. On Monday, we could move on to how we sift them out.

Above all, for Labour Members this will, I hope, pave the way for allowing the withdrawal agreement to go through, because their main argument is not about the contents of the withdrawal agreement but about the “blind Brexit” that worries them so much. Even in motion (J)—if we cannot get a stronger one—there is not a blind Brexit any more. Labour Members could at least abstain, so that we could secure the withdrawal agreement and then move on to what really matters—the serious long-term negotiations on the big issues, which we shall have to handle much better than we are doing now.

My last word is this. If we fail, and if we are faced in a fortnight’s time with no deal, I think the feeling in the House is so strongly against that outcome that we must all vote to revoke at that stage. A great many members of the public will probably think that we have got ourselves into such a mess that it might have been sensible to do that anyway. We should stop now, sort out what we are doing, and perhaps start again if the House is still enthusiastic about leaving. However, I hope we can avoid that conclusion by demonstrating that Parliament is capable of orderly debate, reasonable conclusions, and contributing to the better governance of this country as part of this process—including, I hope, my motion (J).