Duties in connection with Article 50 extension

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:30 pm on 3rd April 2019.

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Photo of Chuka Umunna Chuka Umunna Independent, Streatham 7:30 pm, 3rd April 2019

In a way, I rise to speak to all the amendments, which are supposed to relate to the duties to be exercised under the Bill. However, one duty in particular has been omitted from both the Bill and all the selected amendments.

I know that the views that I shall express are supported by Sir Vince Cable, Caroline Lucas, Ian Blackford, Liz Saville Roberts, and others. We argue that there should be attached to the intention of the Bill the purpose for which it is sought. The European Council has made it absolutely clear that the UK will not necessarily be granted an extension for a general purpose, and that we shall need to specify what we wish to have the extension for. On a number of occasions, senior officials of the various EU institutions have made it clear that they would grant an extension for the purpose of a people’s vote, but no such purpose is referred to in any of the amendments that have been selected, or in the Bill itself.

It is all well and good to argue against no deal—and that, we have been told, lies behind the Bill—but it is clear that if Members wish to be sure of securing the extension to stop no deal, particularly those who will not entertain revocation of article 50, there needs to be a duty not only to request an extension, but to request it for the purpose of what will lead to our being granted the extension that we require, namely a people’s vote.