Leaving the Eu: Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:56 pm on 12th June 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Barclay Stephen Barclay The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 2:56 pm, 12th June 2019

May I be the first to congratulate my hon. Friend Simon Hoare on his election to that important Select Committee, at an important time for it?

I want to begin by picking up on a few of the points that Keir Starmer made in his opening remarks. The first passage of his speech covered what the motion does not do. He set out that it does not cover the legislation that it would unlock—it does not cover the substance, and it does not cover the form. So often in our exchanges at the Dispatch Box, he tells me how much he does not like a blind Brexit, and yet what we have before the House is, in essence, a blind motion. He devoted his opening remarks to the extent to which this is a blind motion, for it does not contain the detail on the basis of which the House will decide.

Interestingly, in the context of the Conservative leadership election, the right hon. and learned Gentleman went on to point out that a new Prime Minister would be limited—they would be unable to go to Brussels to secure a change of substance to the backstop—and yet his position is that a Labour Prime Minister would be able to go to Brussels to secure that. Within his remarks, one can see the contradictions inherent in the motion.

Let me deal with the substance of the motion. Section 1(b) gives precedence to any motion from any individual MP over Government business, and section 1(c) states that it is for you, Mr Speaker, to decide whether that motion is brought before the House over other motions. In essence, sections 1(b) and 1(c) say that an individual MP and the Speaker—two Members of the House—can override Government business. That is the effect of the motion. It puts in the hands of just two Members of Parliament the decision on which business takes precedence. That is what the text of 1(b) and 1(c) says.