European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:50 pm on 4th September 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Barclay Stephen Barclay The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 4:50 pm, 4th September 2019

May I begin by paying tribute to Jane Dodds, who spoke with great distinction on behalf of her constituency?

As they indicated that they may have been making their final speeches in the House, may I also pay tribute to my colleagues the right hon. Members for Mid Sussex (Sir Nicholas Soames) and for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt), who have served with great ability and courtesy throughout my time in the House?

The central issue before the House is whether the Government’s negotiation is sincere and deliverable. The Opposition have continued to refuse to vote for a deal, while making it clear that they will rule out no deal. As Caroline Flint pointed out, there is an inherent contradiction in that position.

The problem with this Bill is, as my right hon. Friend Sir Edward Leigh made clear, that there is no incentive for the EU to move, because it gives the EU complete control of the outcome of these talks. Let me remind the House that President Tusk, and others within the EU, have repeatedly said that they do not want the UK to leave. He has said,

“If a deal is impossible, and no-one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?”

So let us be in no doubt: those on the other side of the negotiation do not want the UK to leave. They do not want to lose the financial contribution of 12% of the EU budget that the UK pays or the £1 billion per month that this extension will mean. So there will be no incentive for the EU to move and this, in practice, will be legislation that will act as purgatory and endless delay.