Progress reports

Part of Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:30 pm on 18th July 2019.

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Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Labour, Wallasey 12:30 pm, 18th July 2019

I rise to support the extremely sensible cross-party amendment so ably moved by my right hon. Friend Hilary Benn. It looks like a technical measure, and in many respects it is. We are dealing with circumstances that I thought I would never face as a Member of this House; the unwritten constitutional norms that we have all accepted in our time in this place are being openly played and challenged by two people, one of whom will be an occupant of Downing Street by the end of next week, having been elected Prime Minister in an extremely mini poll of an extremely narrow number of people.

During the many hustings and debates in that election, the question has been posed of whether this Parliament should be prorogued—sent away—in an effort to get past the issue of its having three times voted against leaving the EU without a deal. The thought that Britain, a great democracy that helped to forge the post-war international rules-based system, should think of getting out of its treaty commitments by simply ripping them up and walking away, and turning its back on negotiation, would never have occurred to most of our predecessors in this place. Certainly, during the referendum, the idea that there could be no deal was not on the agenda; in fact, it was so off the agenda that it was not talked about at all. Those telling us that we should vote to leave the EU said that the deal would be the easiest in history. Nobody mentioned the phrase “no deal”.

Today we see what the Office for Budget Responsibility —an independent economic forecasting outfit appointed by the Government—believes the economic consequences of no deal would be. It does not take a genius, or even someone with a degree in economics, to see from a quick look at the report how disastrous that would be; Britain would enter a recession, and our GDP would be 3% smaller, even in the initial phases.