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European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:09 pm on 9th January 2020.

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Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union) 1:09 pm, 9th January 2020

I join the Minister in thanking the panel of Chairs for presiding over the Committee stages and the work they did in preparation for the debates we had, the staff in the Public Bill Office for the work they did over the Christmas recess and all Members who contributed to the debate in Committee.

The last two days have had their highs and lows. On the one hand, there have been very many thoughtful and considered contributions, and on the other hand, there has been a disappointing and resolute refusal of the Government to seriously consider any amendments however constructively intended. The Minister is right that there was a different tone to the debate, and that is clearly because everybody recognises that the result of the general election means we are leaving the European Union in 22 days’ time. But I think there was also a recognition, I hope on both sides, that leaving the EU does not mean that we will have got Brexit done. We will have completed the first step, departure, but the difficult stage is yet to come: agreeing the new relationship not just on trade, but as many pointed in Committee, on security crucially—but much more besides, from data sharing to research collaboration and more. These are in many ways more complex issues than those we have wrestled with over the last three and a half years, and they are issues with deeply serious consequences for the country.