European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:12 pm on 4th April 2019.

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Photo of Lord Wigley Lord Wigley Plaid Cymru 10:12 pm, 4th April 2019

My Lords, I am delighted to share the gap with the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe. I will say a few words briefly and I make clear my support for the Bill in general terms. But my concern, which I flagged up in my intervention earlier, is that it fails to cover one key circumstance which could well arise during the coming days.

The Bill as it stands requires House of Commons approval of a new date as specified in Article 50(3) of the treaty but the Bill does not apply if no withdrawal agreement has been ratified under Section 13 of the withdrawal Act, and if no agreement has been reached under Article 50(3) of the treaty to extend the date at which the treaty ceases to apply to the UK. In these circumstances of possibly ongoing negotiations, there is the very real danger of the UK crashing out without a withdrawal agreement. That point has been referred to a number of times in the last few speeches. If that is the wish of the House of Commons, so be it; but the votes of the Commons indicate a strong rejection of such a course, with some 400 MPs voting accordingly. It is therefore my opinion that the Bill should be amended to tidy up that loophole, and it is my hope to present an amendment in Committee to remedy that defect.