United Kingdom’S Withdrawal from the European Union

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:35 am on 29th March 2019.

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Photo of Geoffrey Cox Geoffrey Cox The Attorney-General 9:35 am, 29th March 2019

I beg to move,

That this House
notes the European Council Decision of 22 March 2019 taken in agreement with the United Kingdom extending the period under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, which provides for an extension to the Article 50 period to 22 May 2019 only if the House of Commons approves the Withdrawal Agreement by 29 March 2019;
notes that if the House does not do so by that date the Article 50 period will only as a matter of law be extended to 12 April 2019 and that any extension beyond 22 May 2019 would require the UK to bring forward the necessary Day of Poll Order to hold elections to the European Parliament;
notes that Article 184 of the Withdrawal Agreement refers to the Political Declaration between the UK and EU agreed on 25 November 2018, but that the EU has stated it remains open to negotiating changes to the Political Declaration;
notes that the House is currently undertaking deliberations to identify whether there is a design for the future relationship that commands its support;
notes that even should changes be sought to the Political Declaration, leaving the European Union with a deal still requires the Withdrawal Agreement;
declares that it wishes to leave the EU with an agreement as soon as possible and does not wish to have a longer extension;
therefore approves the Withdrawal Agreement, the Joint Instrument and the Unilateral Declaration laid before the House on 11 March 2019 so that the UK can leave the EU on 22 May 2019;
notes that this approval does not by itself meet the requirements of section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018;
and resolves that it is content to proceed to the next steps of this process, including fulfilling section 13 of this Act.

May I begin by thanking all Members for coming to the House on a Friday, and by apologising for the fact that we have had to convene today? The reasons we are convening today are partly to be found in the fact that today is 29 March, and as this House voted some months and years ago, it was today that should have been the day on which we left the European Union. However, we are—