Duties in connection with Article 50 extension

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:00 pm on 3rd April 2019.

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Photo of George Eustice George Eustice Conservative, Camborne and Redruth 8:00 pm, 3rd April 2019

I think my right hon. Friend’s comments were directed at my hon. Friend Michael Tomlinson, rather than directly at me, so I will not become engaged in this discussion.

Regarding the provisions for subsections (6) and (7), the question still remains of what would happen if there were a counter-offer from the European Union. My contention is that that should then be a matter for the Government to bring before the House in a statement, to be challenged in the usual way. If at that point the House was unsatisfied with the Government’s proposal, it would still be open to it, through an initiative of the sort we have seen today, to introduce a Bill placing a further constraint on the Government, perhaps by requiring them to accept a counter-offer, for instance of a two-year extension, so that we could have a fuller, longer and perhaps more considered debate on what in my view would be a really big decision, because we would have gone five years since the first referendum and achieved nothing. The risk of not leaving the European Union at all and ending up arguing about a second referendum would grow. I believe that opting for such a lengthy extension would a very big decision, and one that would warrant a separate Bill with a separate, much longer and much more detailed discussion.