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Britain's Place in the World

Part of Speaker’s Statement – in the House of Commons at 3:13 pm on 15th October 2019.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 3:13 pm, 15th October 2019

Let me be clear about my position. If we go down the road of having a referendum, I think that it must be between a negotiated deal and remain. When I say “negotiated deal”, I mean one that the EU would actually sign off, because I do not think it is fair to people to offer an option to leave that is not a proper option. I would go further. I would advocate that this House actually passed the implementation legislation, subject to a coming-into-force date or something like that, to show that it could be done straightaway. We would have to show that the deal had been secured with the EU and could therefore be delivered, and also that we had already put in place the means to deliver it in this place so that we could actually resolve this situation—one way or the other—within a short period of time. I now think that that is the only way to break the impasse.

I am now going to make some progress because I have taken a lot of interventions. I have outlined Labour’s approach, and it is our approach because we believe in international co-operation, upholding international law, and that we need to work alongside our closest and most important allies. Let me take just one example of that: climate change. I listened very carefully to what the Secretary of State said. This Queen’s Speech has 22 Bills—yet what was there on climate change? One mention, in the final paragraph. The climate emergency should be the issue around which our politics evolves and revolves. It is the foreign policy challenge of our time and the defining issue of global security. It should be the focus of the UK’s diplomatic and development efforts, and it, no Brexit, should have been the centrepiece of this Queen’s Speech. The fact that it got just one mention is a measure of the Government’s lack of leadership on this central issue.

This Queen’s Speech was entirely unnecessary. It is packed with Bills that the Government know are never going to get passed. It fails to recognise—let alone tackle—any of the huge challenges we face, and shows that the Government are oblivious to the need for radical change. Frankly, it is the weakest defence imaginable for the decision to prorogue Parliament for five weeks, which was unlawful and obviously unnecessary.