Duties in connection with Article 50 extension

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:45 pm on 8th April 2019.

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Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 9:45 pm, 8th April 2019

Yes, I say to the right hon. Lady that it would have to be.

Lords amendment 5, tabled in the name of Cross-Bench peer the noble Lord Pannick, reinstates the form of a previous amendment that I proposed in this House, and which was opposed by the backers of the Bill. It seeks to retain the royal prerogative, which gives the Prime Minister, as a matter of constitutional principle, the discretion to decide what is the best agreement to reach on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government. It is a pillar of our constitution, and the means to govern this country effectively and unencumbered.

Lords amendment 5 adds a proviso that any extension agreed should not end earlier than 22 May. Of course, the Government have already been clear that we are seeking an extension to 30 June, so that is no threat to the prerogative power. I spoke in support of the prerogative power in Committee, and the noble Lord Howard and the noble Lord Cormack were united in speaking in its support in the other place. As Member for the Faithful City, I am happy to continue to speak in its support.

While I have great sympathy for amendment (a) to Lords amendment 5, tabled by my hon. Friends the Members for Stone (Sir William Cash) and for Wycombe (Mr Baker)—I entirely agree with the sentiment—the Government have already set out our desire for an extension to 30 June to allow the maximum time to secure an orderly exit from the European Union.