Progress reports

Part of Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:22 pm on 18th July 2019.

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Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt Conservative, North East Bedfordshire 12:22 pm, 18th July 2019

I rise simply to support the remarks made by Hilary Benn and to explain why I added my name to amendment (a).

As the right hon. Gentleman concluded on the position of Northern Ireland—the springboard for the amendment—the implications of every decision taken by the United Kingdom in relation to Brexit are highly significant both for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. For us to be in the run-up to 31 October without those considerations being before the House seems genuinely very difficult, as it does when we go beyond that and consider that the House might not be sitting during the run-up to the date itself to consider all the other things. If we have felt under the weight of any pressure up to now, I venture to suggest to the House that that will be as nothing compared with the days leading up to 31 October if it is not clear where the country is going, either because a deal has been agreed or because the consequences of no deal have been sufficiently spelt out that everybody has been able to take a view. The idea that we might not be here to reflect those concerns and to take our own view on what the circumstances might be seems to me not only highly unlikely, but undesirable and preventable.

I have added my support for amendment (a), which strengthens the Anderson amendment agreed to in the other place and makes sure that we will be here to reflect the views of our constituents. Amendment (a) does not suggest how the House would vote when presented with a choice between a deal and no deal; it makes absolutely certain, in the absence of assurances, that we will be here then.

I commend to the House the amendment tabled by my right hon. Friend Hilary Benn.