European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:39 pm on 4th September 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Flint Caroline Flint Labour, Don Valley 4:39 pm, 4th September 2019

May I extend my best wishes to Sir Nicholas Soames? I will miss our occasional lift encounters in Portcullis House—[Interruption.] Hang on, do not use up all my three minutes on that, because it is not for today.

I have voted for a deal twice, and I would have voted for the withdrawal agreement Bill, so I have probably voted for a deal more times than some prominent members of the present Government. However, I have also opposed no deal more times than some of the ex-Cabinet members and Ministers who are supporting this Bill today. I have been trying to seek compromise, but the decision on the UK’s departure from the European Union that we delegated to the British people has been dogged by a lack of compromise on both sides. Hard-line leavers and hard-line remainers have succeeded in turning a complicated decision into a crisis. Between them, they are eroding the trust and patience of the British people.

Today’s debate is born of the understandable fear that the UK will leave with no deal and that that will cause avoidable damage to our economy. It is born of a fear that the Prime Minister—I hope I am not using unparliamentary language, Mr Speaker—is insincere in his stated intention of reaching a deal with the EU27. However, others in the House must also be self-critical. It is disingenuous for someone to tell the public that they are against no deal if they are really also against any deal and, indeed, against Brexit. If the EU27 can accept a deal, however revised, it must be better for the UK and the EU27 than no deal.

Therefore, if the amendments in the name of my hon. Friend Stephen Kinnock are selected today, I urge colleagues to support them, because they would tie an extension to securing a deal, which is the proper way forward.