Compliance with the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:41 am on 26th September 2019.

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Photo of James Duddridge James Duddridge Chair, High Speed Rail (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill Select Committee (Commons) , The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 9:41 am, 26th September 2019

In the tone that you are setting, Mr Speaker, perhaps I may refer to a Member incorrectly and thank my hon. Friend, because there are many friends across the Chamber. If one reads the newspapers this morning, there is a feeling that we are permanently adversarial and at war with one another. That is not the case. Many of us work together bilaterally in groups and Committees in this House, and most of the time on the Floor of the House we work in a consensual nature.

Turning to this important urgent question, the Government will obey the law. That has always been the case. The House has heard that from the Prime Minister; it has heard it from the First Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary; it has heard it from the Lord Chancellor, who has constitutional responsibility for upholding the rule of law; and yesterday right hon. and hon. Members had the opportunity to put similar questions to the Attorney General.

The Government opposed the Act that was passed earlier this month. Notwithstanding our fervent attempts to resist the passage of the Bill, even its architects must accept that the Act makes provision for a potential range of outcomes, not one outcome. The outcome the Government want—the outcome this Government have always wanted—is a deal with the European Union. That deal can deliver the mandate of the British people. That deal is possible and is now within reach.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, along with the Prime Minister’s negotiating team, has been engaged in constructive negotiations. As the Prime Minister told this place yesterday, we were told that Brussels would never reopen the withdrawal agreement, but we are now discussing reopening the withdrawal agreement in detail. While I appreciate that some may seek to anticipate failure, to frustrate from the sidelines or to speculate for some type of sport, this Government will not indulge in defeatism.

I trust that the House, and the collective wisdom of hon. Members, will focus its energies today and beyond on the prospect of success in the negotiations, and prepare to give any revised agreement its full and unfettered support.