Duties in connection with the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:21 pm on 4th September 2019.

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Photo of Richard Graham Richard Graham Conservative, Gloucester 5:21 pm, 4th September 2019

I rise to seek colleagues’ patience in proposing something that I believe is a compromise that many Members in this House have long sought and many people have expressed support for. The compromise goes like this. There are many of us on both sides of this House who do not want no deal and yet, as has been pointed out by many Members, including Caroline Flint, many colleagues have not supported a deal. My simple amendment to the Bill would require the Government to have a vote on Monday 21 October—the first sitting day after the EU Council—on a deal, whether it be a new deal or the previous deal. Should that vote be successful and approved by Members of this House, the Government would be required, if they needed more time, to ask for an extension from the European Union, purely in order to get the legislation through Parliament.

Whereas other amendments that will be debated today require the Government to ask for an extension and then set about trying to find the deal, mine does the opposite. It gives us all the chance to vote for either the existing deal previously negotiated by the last Government or whatever new deal is successfully negotiated by the new Government. That means that everyone in this House who wishes to prevent no deal would have the chance to do so by voting for that deal. I hope that many colleagues around this House who have been able to prevent making a decision between a deal and no deal would realise that that was the last chance to do that—merely a week before no deal became the default on 31 October.

I know there are some colleagues for whom the business of asking for an extension is part of the circuit of trying to prevent Brexit from happening at all, and I understand that. However, I believe there may be a majority in this House who have accepted the will of the people in the referendum, and who have said and told their constituents that they respect the referendum result, and a lot of us were elected on a manifesto pledge to do so. This would be the moment when we could put that to the test and vote for a deal.