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

With the greatest respect to the hon. Gentleman, I disagree with his analysis about the deal. I did not note much opposition, certainly from certain corners of the House, to the detail of the withdrawal agreement. The focus of the debate has been on the nature of the future relationship and the declaration that accompanies the agreement. I therefore take issue with his characterisation of the current position.

It is our desire to pursue this process with expedition. Our intention is to secure the House’s assent to the deal and we have been clear, as I have just said, that that could include making changes to the political declaration. That would meet the necessary preconditions for ratification by 22 May, so that we could leave the EU without the need to hold European Parliament elections. While all sides recognise the urgency with which we need to make progress, given where we are and that it will be challenging, we cannot be certain that an extension until just 22 May would provide us with sufficient time.