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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

My hon. Friend is completely right. Those who have argued for three years that they are motivated primarily by a desire to avoid no deal have only one logical course of action tonight, and that is to vote for a programme motion which will ensure that we leave with a deal on 31 October. Doing anything else would, I am afraid, mean this House abdicating its responsibilities and handing over to the European Council the decision on what happens next: whether the EU will offer a short delay, a long delay, or no delay. The decision will be down to the EU.

The public do not want further delay. The House has discussed these issues for three and a half years. What on earth will the public think of us if the House votes again tonight not to get on with it—not to deliver Brexit on 31 October, but to hand over control of what happens next to the EU, closing the path to leaving with a deal on 31 October and opening the path to no deal in nine days’ time? Members claim that they want more weeks or months, or perhaps even years, in which to debate this matter, but the public will not be deceived about the real purpose of such delay. When we are so nearly at the end of this process, are Members really going to tell their constituents that at the last hurdle they chose to hand the decision to Brussels?

Even if the European Council were to agree with Parliament on a further delay, what would happen in the period after 31 October? As my hon. Friend Vicky Ford rightly said, there would be yet more of the uncertainty that is holding our country back. I invite Members to picture the businesses in our constituencies freezing their investments, the jobs that will never be created, the contracts that British firms will neither bid for nor win, and the exports that will never leave our shores.