Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:55 pm on 3rd April 2019.

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Photo of Oliver Letwin Oliver Letwin Conservative, West Dorset 1:55 pm, 3rd April 2019

I promised myself at the very beginning of this process—going right back to the referendum campaign and beyond—never to deny the truth about these things, even when it was inconvenient. If the hon. Lady has asked, as I think she has, whether some people see things in that light, I have to answer that some do, and that is a misfortune. If she also asks, as I think she does, whether I regret that this is being done at high speed, the only honest answer is yes; I do regret that. Unfortunately, it can only be done at high speed, because there is no time left. I also very much regret that.

In fact, on the subject of the chain of regrets that I have to admit to the hon. Lady, who I think is my constituency MP in London, I have to say that my biggest regret is that my right hon. Friend for—[Interruption.] Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford; thank you, Mr Speaker—and I decided some weeks ago not to pursue an admirable previous Bill, the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 4) Bill, if I remember correctly, which would have had the same effect but could have been considered at more length. Perhaps I was more responsible for that decision than she was. That was, I think, an error on my part. It arose from the intention and hope that we could work entirely with the Government, who made a series of offers to us about the votes that would be held, and which were indeed held. I felt—I think we joined in feeling this, partly because I persuaded my right hon. Friend to join me in this—that it was sensible in the circumstances not to pursue that Bill. That is not an error that I will make again, and that is why I have moved the business of the House motion.