Duties in connection with Article 50 extension

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:30 pm on 3rd April 2019.

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Photo of Peter Grant Peter Grant Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union) 9:30 pm, 3rd April 2019

Absolutely. As for the idea that we should not take part in the elections because we do not know how long our MEPs will be there, let us remember that some of them are never there anyway. I remember the Scottish regional elections in 1994, which we knew were for councils that would exist for a very limited time, but they actually had a higher turnout than was previously the case, because people were energised and motivated and understood what they were about. If the hard-line Conservatives do not want to take part in European parliamentary elections, that is entirely up to them, but I do not want my constituents to be denied an opportunity to vote for their representatives in Europe, whether that is for two days, two years or a full parliamentary term.

We will certainly support the drafting amendments tabled by the right hon. Members who introduced the Bill—given how many Lords amendment are often required to sort out the mistakes in Government legislation, despite all the resources that the Government have at their disposal, it is a bit much to be nitpicking about the fact that there were a couple of drafting errors in this Bill. It would have been nice not to have to rush the Bill through the House in such a hurry. It would have been nice if the Government had actually listened to what Parliament has been saying, in Back-Bench business debates and Opposition day debates, for the past three years. They have refused to listen, which is why the only way to make them listen is by Act of Parliament. That is why we will support the two amendments I have mentioned, and I hope to see the Bill go through to Third Reading.