Further Developments in Discussions with the European Union under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:24 pm on 11th March 2019.

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Photo of Lord Goldsmith Lord Goldsmith Labour 3:24 pm, 11th March 2019

My Lords, there are two preliminary issues. First, why am I standing here? The answer is that because we were promised some legal changes to the withdrawal agreement. We have seen in the newspapers stories about the peregrinations of Attorney-General Geoffrey Cox going to Brussels and putting forward new texts, and we were going to see what the result of that was. It was thought that, as we were expecting such a text, it might be useful to noble Lords if a lawyer was here to respond, but there is nothing.

That leads to the second question which your Lordships may be considering. What are we actually debating today? I think the answer is that it is the same 611 pages that we debated the last time we had a debate: the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration. At the moment, there is not a single word changed. That is the issue before your Lordships today.

Can we expect a deus ex machina during this debate? There are rumours that the Prime Minister is in the air heading to Strasbourg. That comes from the Irish, so whether it is true is yet to be confirmed—no doubt the Minister will confirm it.