Section 1 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019

Part of Exiting the European Union (Sanctions) – in the House of Commons at 3:42 pm on 9th April 2019.

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Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General 3:42 pm, 9th April 2019

I beg to move,

That this House
agrees for the purposes of section 1 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019 to the Prime Minister seeking an extension of the period specified in Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union to a period ending on 30 June 2019.

I will endeavour to be brief in my remarks. I will, of course, take interventions, but please allow me to make three points by way of introduction. First, the Government did not want to be in this position. I do not say that in the spirit of seeking to attribute blame to people, but in a moment of solemn reflection it is important that we acknowledge where we find ourselves.

It is of great disappointment to me and many others that this House has not felt able to approve the withdrawal agreement. The Prime Minister said last week that any plan for the future must include the withdrawal agreement. It is what we negotiated with the EU, and it remains the Government’s position that leaving with a deal is the best way for this country to leave the EU. Although I understand that certain right hon. and hon. Members have not found themselves in a position to support the withdrawal agreement, if we are to leave the EU in a smooth and orderly manner, we must find a way to find a plan for the way forward that includes it. Furthermore, the Government have already been clear that we are seeking an extension. As such, we continue to be of the view that the Bill passed last night was, with respect to its movers, unnecessary.

Secondly, it is clear that the House is not willing to leave without a deal. Thirdly, nobody who respects the outcome of the referendum could wish the UK to participate in the European Parliament elections, nearly three years after our country voted to leave the institutions of the European Union. However, if the UK remains a member state on 23 May, that is what it will be legally required to do. That is because the EU treaties provide that European Union citizens have the right to be represented in the European Parliament, and that the European Parliament needs to be properly constituted, with duly elected MEPs from all member states, for it to perform its functions.