European Union (Withdrawal)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:51 pm on 3rd September 2019.

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Photo of Oliver Letwin Oliver Letwin Conservative, West Dorset 6:51 pm, 3rd September 2019

I agree with my hon. Friend that the proportions are different from the absolutes, but I fear that my hon. Friend’s Committee’s report was deficient, in my view, in an important respect. There is a counterbalancing point from the EU’s perspective, and that is that actually demonstrating that it causes great pain proportionately to the country that is doing it is regarded as a significant political, ideological and geopolitical advantage. We have no similar advantage, so the threat to our prosperity and the welfare of our people is the only issue that arises, whereas for the EU there is a positive advantage in a no-deal exit to be balanced against the absolute and proportionately much smaller effect on the member states’ economies. Again, my hon. Friend and I may differ in that judgment, but that is the judgment that we are asking the House to make, and I take the view that I have espoused.

In the light of the four facts—the slender chance of a deal being struck on the Government’s terms; the fact that this is Parliament’s last chance to block a no-deal exit on 31 October; the fact that without a parliamentary block the Government are willing to take us into a no deal; and the fact that prospect of such a disorderly and undemocratic no-deal exit is a threat to our prosperity and our Union, rather than an effective negotiating strategy with the EU—we are putting forward to the House today a motion, the sole purpose of which is to enable the House tomorrow to debate and vote on a Bill in the names of Hilary Benn and my right hon. Friend Alistair Burt. If the House votes for this motion tonight, it will give itself the ability to vote for that Bill tomorrow. That Bill will mandate the Prime Minister to seek an extension to 31 January unless he has either got a deal in place at the end of the European Council meeting in October and has got it agreed by Parliament or has got Parliament to agree to a no-deal exit by 19 October.