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Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:47 pm on 1st April 2019.

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Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Labour, Wallasey 3:47 pm, 1st April 2019

I had not intended to speak, but I think it is important, in the light of the comments the Leader of the House has made, that at least somebody gets up and points out that our debate today has come about simply because Parliament has tried to do something that the Prime Minister ought to have been doing three years ago when the referendum happened: namely, to try to make some sense of what was a completely undefined way of trying to leave the European Union, which had divided our country. What we should have been seeing, and what today’s business motion allows us to do—albeit at the very last minute—is to try to reach out and see if we can come together ourselves across Parliament and begin to think about ways that might be able to heal our deeply divided country. It has been divided by a Prime Minister who insisted on dealing solely with her own extreme right-wingers to try to define what Brexit should be, rather than reaching across the aisle in this House to try to bring about a compromise that could have taken more of the country with it.

I understand the points made by the Leader of the House about the constitutional novelty of the situation we are in, but I disagree with her hard-line view of Parliament’s role, especially since the 2017 general election deprived her party of a majority in this House, and taking into account this Government’s record in riding roughshod over constitutional understandings by ignoring Opposition votes, by refusing to vote on Opposition motions, and by defining the parliamentary Session in two years, thereby taking away the opportunity for Opposition days and halving their number.