Duties in connection with Article 50 extension

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:15 pm on 3rd April 2019.

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Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Labour, Delyn 8:15 pm, 3rd April 2019

I hope that the Committee will bear with me, because the amendments were tabled only very recently. However, I think that they deserve exploration. I support the drafting amendments tabled my right hon. Friend Yvette Cooper and Sir Oliver Letwin. Having served on nearly 50 Public Bill Committees during my time in the House, I know that Governments bring forward amendments to correct drafting errors during the course of proceedings, and there will be an opportunity for further such amendments when the Bill is considered in the Lords. What my right hon. Friend and the right hon. Gentleman are seeking to do, in principle, is to rule out a no-deal scenario, and that is vital for the House.

The Bill, as currently drafted—in clause 1(2)—leaves open the date for leaving until the Prime Minister brings back a measure. The amendments that I wish to speak against tonight are those indicating that there should be definitive dates for the closure of that discussion by the Prime Minister. As I said when I intervened on George Eustice, I find myself in a strange position tonight, in the sense that I want to give the Prime Minister maximum flexibility to join the together the House and the British people by achieving a deal that satisfies the British people, the Government and Opposition Members. My constituency voted to leave and I voted to remain. There is a settlement to be made, and the Prime Minister needs maximum flexibility to achieve that settlement. What the House has been very clear about is that no deal should not be an option, and that is what the Bill seeks to rule out.

The amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Camborne and Redruth would set a date of 30 June, and the amendment tabled by Mrs Main would set a date of 22 May. Amendment 6, tabled by Sir William Cash, seeks the agreement of the Northern Ireland Assembly prior to any settlement being agreed, despite the fact that currently, for reasons I find disappointing, the Northern Ireland Assembly does not meet. There is no definitive date in the hon. Gentleman’s proposal. All those amendments would restrict the Prime Minister’s opportunity to make a difference and achieve a deal in this House.