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 Peter Grant Peter Grant Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union) 9:41 am, 26th September 2019

I wholeheartedly associate myself and those on the Scottish National party Benches with your earlier remarks, Mr Speaker. Hardened political journalists went home last night in tears, and none of us can feel any pride in what happened. I say this from the SNP Benches. I have had words with some of my colleagues, and I hope that those on other Benches have done so as well. No party is entirely innocent, and it does not take us forward in any way if all we do is blame someone else.

I commend Ian Murray for asking the urgent question. The identity of the Minister who has been sent to answer it—I say this with respect to the relative juniority of the Minister—and the fact that the Prime Minister has not come to answer it, perhaps tell us more than the answer itself. I make this offer from the SNP to those on the Government Benches, and I hope they will take it back to the Prime Minister: if he brings back an extension that takes no deal off the table, he can have his general election. However, the Minister might also want to advise the Prime Minister that he should be careful what he wishes for, because his wish might just be granted.

What an extraordinary position we are in, when we have to ask questions in Parliament about whether the Prime Minister will obey the law of the land. Yesterday, he was asked whether, in a specific set of circumstances in which the law required him to take precise action, he would do what the law required. I heard him say no. This is an extraordinary state of affairs. We have not yet had a satisfactory answer as to how the Prime Minister thought that that single one-word answer, no, was not an assurance that he would defy the law. He does not want to extend, but if the law says to him “thou shalt extend”, will the Minister confirm that the Prime Minister will obey the law of the land? Will he also confirm that a Prime Minister who shilly-shallies in any way over obeying the law of the land is not fit to be Prime Minister?