Leaving the European Union

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:08 pm on 22nd May 2019.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 1:08 pm, 22nd May 2019

I think that the right hon. Gentleman gave the game away when he made it absolutely clear that, as far as he is concerned, the way to get this through the House is for everybody else to compromise to his plan and only his plan. He was very clear that he was not making any proposals to compromise. The Government have indeed compromised. We have recognised that there are issues on which this House will need to decide—and that is the plain fact.

There are different opinions across this House on the two key issues of the future customs arrangement and the second referendum. I have made my position very clear on these. The Government have set out their position. But it is for this House to decide, and the best vehicle to do this is within the withdrawal agreement Bill, so then this House can finally make its mind up on what it wants the future customs arrangement to be and whether it thinks there should be a second referendum.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about free votes on a second referendum. Well, of course, in the indicative vote process that went through, we did indeed give Conservative Members a free vote on this issue, and the second referendum was rejected across the House.

The right hon. Gentleman made some inaccurate comments. He talks about the environmental regulator. It will be an independent body that is able to hold the Government to account on environmental standards. I think that he shows his blinkered view on trade when what he sets out is that, as far as he seems to be concerned, the only people he wants to trade with are in the European Union. Actually, what we want to see is a good trade deal with the EU and good trade deals with other countries around the world—that is the best way forward for the United Kingdom.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about British Steel. I answered questions in Prime Minister’s questions on British Steel and what the Government are doing. He talked about Labour’s position of wanting a comprehensive customs union, all the dynamic alignment and single market alignment. What the Labour party wants to achieve in its relationship with the EU would make it even harder for a British Government to take action to protect industries such as the steel industry. He has always complained about state aid rules, but he wants to tie us into those state aid rules with what he proposes.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about different opinions across the House. Of course, the one issue that has never properly been resolved in this House and that the withdrawal agreement Bill would force to be resolved is whether he himself is for Brexit or against it. If he is for Brexit, he will vote for the withdrawal agreement Bill. Voting against the withdrawal agreement Bill is voting against Brexit.