Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:13 pm on 3rd April 2019.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Chair, Committee on Exiting the European Union 3:13 pm, 3rd April 2019

I want to speak briefly to amendment (a), which stands in my name and has been selected. In response to the contribution from Wera Hobhouse, she will note that amendment (a) would give the House, if carried, the opportunity on Monday to engage in a further round of indicative votes.

I note that since I put my amendment down the Prime Minister has become an enthusiastic convert to the notion of indicative votes. In the statement she made from Downing Street, she said, of the process she is now, as we speak, engaging in by talking to the Leader of the Opposition to try to find a way forward, that if we cannot agree on an approach

“we would instead agree a number of options for the future relationship that we could put to the House in a series of votes to determine which course to pursue.”

I think that that was a very significant announcement, because the Government had talked in general terms about giving the House such an opportunity. Although we have had two rounds, since the Government have had three goes for their withdrawal agreement, or part of their withdrawal agreement, it would seem rather churlish of Members not to give the House a further opportunity.

I want to reinforce the point made by the hon. Member for Bath. Looking at the results from last time—the customs union came within three votes of passing and a confirmatory referendum came within 12 votes of passing—there is now an opportunity, given that we are going to have to compromise to try to find a way forward, to see whether Members can come together and combine some of the propositions in the way that she suggested to see whether we can assist in the process the Government are now embarking on in reaching out to the Leader of the Opposition. Monday, if amendment (a) were carried, would give us the opportunity to do so.