Duties in connection with Article 50 extension

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:00 pm on 8th April 2019.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 9:00 pm, 8th April 2019

I completely repudiate what has been said by Yvette Cooper. The reality is that this outrage is the equivalent of tossing a hand grenade into our constitutional arrangements, given the vital importance of the vote that was delivered by the British people in the referendum. It constitutes a deliberate attempt to undermine that result, and any attempt to say otherwise is a total misrepresentation of the facts.

The Bill will not compel the Prime Minister to do anything that she does not want to do anyway, which is to ask for an extension until 30 June, if we assume that the resolution of the House on Tuesday retains that date. The Bill does not compel her to agree to an extension to a different date, if offered by the European Council, and nor if one is offered with conditions. By the way, that could raise some very serious legal questions, which have not yet been followed through to their ultimate conclusion. Hence, if there is a longer extension, it will be by the Prime Minister’s own voluntary act, and not as a result of compulsion by a remain-dominated Parliament, which is what this is. I have said repeatedly during these proceedings that we have a system of parliamentary Government, not government by Parliament. This is a complete reversal of that position; it is a constitutional outrage.

Further, with regard to the European elections, which are dealt with in another amendment on the amendment paper, I would just read out the new clause in my name:

“No extension of the period under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union may be agreed by the Prime Minister if as a result the United Kingdom would be required to prepare for or to hold elections to the European Parliament.”

There are many, many people up and down the country who would totally support that proposition. Furthermore, the reality is that, on Thursday last week, I had a similar amendment on the Order Paper. I was informed that, although it had been selected, No. 10 had given instructions to vote against it. The Government were going to vote against that amendment despite the fact that it was meant to be Government policy. All over the country, there is a firestorm about the fact that we could be involved in European elections. People are leaving their own parties over this because they are so completely infuriated by the fact that the arrangements under consideration here could lead to this absolutely insane idea of our being involved in European elections. The turnout in European elections is derisory. The European Parliament itself is derisory. There is absolutely no reason on earth why we should be involved in these elections, and that is why I have tabled this new clause.