Section 1 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019

Part of Exiting the European Union (Sanctions) – in the House of Commons at 4:47 pm on 9th April 2019.

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Photo of Anne Main Anne Main Conservative, St Albans 4:47 pm, 9th April 2019

I completely agree with the hon. Lady.

I should like to refresh the memory of those in the House who think that there is no problem in having this flextension. In 2002, a decision by the European Council stated:

Members of the European Parliament shall vote on an individual and personal basis. They shall not be bound by any instructions and shall not receive a binding mandate”.

The article also stated:

“Members shall exercise their mandate freely and independently, shall not be bound by any instructions and shall not receive a binding mandate”.

The loose talk about what we may or may not expect of our MEPs if we stand candidates in the next elections is extremely worrying. We have to take that seriously. People who stand in those elections should have every right to take up their seats as MEPs. It is likely that the House will not reach any form of agreement or consensus. It needs restating that only five Members of the official Opposition agreed to the separated withdrawal agreement. The political declaration has always been open for discussion, yet Labour seem to want to bind any future leader of the Conservative party. When people seek to bind the hands, the voices and the opinions of duly elected MEPs, who speak on behalf of their constituents, or of this Government, that is not democracy.

It is appalling that we may seek an extension with no real sense of purpose. If the Labour party gave an undertaking that it supported the withdrawal agreement and that its disagreement was simply with the political declaration, perhaps our Prime Minister could go along in the sure and certain knowledge that some sort of deal could be done fairly quickly.