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Main power in connection with other separation issues

Part of European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill – in the House of Commons at 1:45 pm on 8th January 2020.

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Photo of Thangam Debbonaire Thangam Debbonaire Opposition Whip (Commons) 1:45 pm, 8th January 2020

The right hon. Gentleman is well aware that the Labour party had leadership hustings last night and that the Front-Bench team were here and fully engaged. I am talking now about the future relationship. Labour Members know, reluctantly or not—for many of us, this will be a sad moment—that on 31 January we will leave the EU. We accept that, but I am now talking about scrutiny of the future relationship. The shamefully misleading impression given by the Government that electing them in December would mean that Brexit would be “done” by the end of January and that we could move on to other matters is a terrible way to treat the people of the United Kingdom, whoever they voted for.

I am sure the Prime Minister and his entire Front-Bench team are fully aware that Brexit does not just get “done” when we leave, as we are going to and as the Opposition have acknowledged, on 31 January. I am certain that newly elected, as well as returning, Conservative Members know perfectly well that all that will happen on 31 January is that we will leave the European Union. They know that none of the agreement on the future relationship, or of the arrangements for sharing information about criminals or trading, or for co-operating on research or on moving life-saving medicines between the UK and the rest of the EU, will be “done”. That will all be still to do. The Government have set a wildly unrealistic expectation, not only that Brexit will just get “done”, but that the many aspects of the future relationship will be “done” by the end of June this year, for the transition to be over by the end of December. In doing that, the Government treat the economy, jobs, lives and welfare of the people of the UK recklessly.

Clause 33 means that the implementation period comes to an end on 31 December, in all circumstances, as Ministers said yesterday. Even if we have not worked out how people who currently work across borders in the EU can continue to do so, Ministers are prohibited by law—they will be by the end of tomorrow—from asking for an extension period. If the agreements on how we share information about terrorists and criminals, or on other important aspects of data sharing, are only days away, we will still not be allowed to ask for an extension, even one that is just for days. Even if the arrangements for the movement of medicines are not complete, there will be no extension. [Interruption.] This is related to this amendment, because we are asking for scrutiny of the process. If the Government are going to insist on this transition period coming to an end no matter what, surely we should have a right to scrutinise the process.