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 8th April 2019.

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Photo of Wes Streeting Wes Streeting Labour, Ilford North 9:30 pm, 8th April 2019

The hon. Gentleman will be aware from our time together on the Treasury Committee that we knew what the timeline was for the negotiations. What we could not have foreseen was that the Prime Minister would be so irresponsible, when given the authority to trigger article 50, to send that letter without first having agreement within her Cabinet, within her party and across the House. We also could not have foreseen—not least because she promised repeatedly that she would not do it—that she would have wasted a significant proportion of that two years on a general election.

In the election, the Prime Minister asked the country in explicit and personal terms to give her the mandate that she needed for a hard Brexit of the kind that many Government Members now demand. What did the public say? They said no. They did not give the Prime Minister the majority she asked for. The Conservative party lost seats and the country decided that no one party could be trusted with a majority to govern. That should bring humility on all of us. It also required a degree of contrition and compromise, but we have not seen any of that from the Prime Minister until the 11th hour.