Section 1 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019

Part of Exiting the European Union (Sanctions) – in the House of Commons at 4:03 pm on 9th April 2019.

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Photo of Matthew Pennycook Matthew Pennycook Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union) 4:03 pm, 9th April 2019

I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman that this is a failed strategy. As I will come on to say, for any viable proposition to be accepted, there has to be real movement from the Government. It was on that basis that the Opposition agreed to substantive talks with the Government in the national interest.

As you will be aware, Sir, a further round of talks is taking place as we speak, and we will continue to engage with them in a constructive spirit. However, the talks will inevitably fail if the Government are not willing to countenance fundamental changes to their deal. It is futile and, frankly, patronising to right hon. and hon. Members across the House to be told that if we only understood the Government’s deal properly, we would realise that the concerns we have expressed to this day are unwarranted.

If a stable majority is to coalesce around a single unified approach, it will require genuine compromise, as the Solicitor General said. It will also require honesty from the Government about where legitimate differences exist, how they might be bridged in an overhauled political declaration, and how this House would entrench any changes that might be agreed so that they cannot simply be ripped up by whichever of the expanding field of candidates eventually succeeds the Prime Minister, as well as about the requirement for seeking public approval for any agreement that might emerge at this late hour by means of a confirmatory referendum.