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European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:07 pm on 22nd October 2019.

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Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Father of the House of Commons 3:07 pm, 22nd October 2019

I thank my right hon. Friend for giving way. I regret that I am on a different side from him on this occasion, as I was on Maastricht, but I am enjoying his speech as much as I did then.

Does my right hon. Friend accept that, until very recently, there was no suggestion that England, Scotland and Wales were going to go into their own customs union and single market, and that the whole of Ireland, including Northern Ireland, was going to go into a single market and customs union with the continent of Europe? Indeed, that was expressly ruled out only a few months ago by the present Prime Minister. At the moment that issue is due to be disposed of in three hours, with other issues being disposed of tomorrow morning. If every member of the DUP tries to speak, they will be reduced to a three-minute time limit in their speeches, and that also applies to other Members of the House. Having spent more than 100 hours over Maastricht, when he occupied quite a lot of the time himself, why on earth does he think that we should not debate such important constitutional issues?