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European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:24 pm on 22nd October 2019.

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Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 1:24 pm, 22nd October 2019

I am delighted to say that the settled status scheme is proceeding apace, and we have every hope that the entire 3.4 million will have registered by the time of the deadline. However, the best way to give all our citizens confidence and security, and to give all our friends confidence and security—particularly those 3.4 million—is to get this deal through tonight, because that is how we will protect their rights.

I know that some colleagues have been contemplating certain amendments that are not about delivering the new deal, but rather about trying to change its fundamentals. What would that say to our European friends about our good intentions? That we are proposing to come back to Brussels to ask for a third agreement? That we will put it to a fifth vote, perhaps after another six months or another year? Is there anyone who seriously believes that the EU would reopen the withdrawal agreement again? On the contrary, our European friends could not be clearer. The deal on the table is the one contained in the Bill. The decision for the House is whether to ratify this deal, rather than going round in circles in a futile effort to construct a new one.

Then there is the question of yet further delay. I know that some colleagues have been contemplating the timetable for the Bill, and asking whether scrutiny should take longer. I do not think that we in this House should be daunted by the task that is before us. Let us work night and day, if that is what it takes to get this done. Our European friends are not showing any enthusiasm about agreeing to the delay for which Parliament has asked.