It is a great pleasure to follow Bill Esterson. I want to reflect his comments about the necessity of this statutory instrument, based on whether we have a no-deal outcome. This is effectively a no-deal prep piece of legislation. He is right that we want to avoid no deal. That is the preferred outcome of virtually no one in this House. Some hon. Members might be prepared to accept it if necessary. We cannot go into a negotiation saying, “I’m going to stay here until you finally force me to accept something.” That will never be a successful strategy.
There is an easy way for no deal to come off the table: to agree a withdrawal agreement. One of the ironies of last night’s debate is that there are only two outcomes that we could have without the withdrawal agreement, and the European Union has made its views clear. The first is no deal, and the second is no Brexit—the revocation of article 50. To be fair to Scottish National party Members, with whom I often exchange opinions across the Chamber, their view is that they will not vote for the withdrawal agreement because they would prefer to go for one of the options that does not require a withdrawal agreement—in other words, the revocation of article 50. It is therefore slightly strange to get a lecture from people saying that the deal will never go through but last night voted predominantly for two options that are based on the withdrawal agreement going through as the divorce from the EU. They are arguing about what the future relationship should be, but the withdrawal agreement is the gateway to the future relationship.