European Council - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:08 pm on 11th April 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal 3:08 pm, 11th April 2019

I thank the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, and the noble Lord, Lord Newby, for their questions, which I will attempt to answer. The noble and learned Lord asked about the review point in June. It will allow leaders to take stock of progress at the June Council, but the extension will last until 31 October unless the withdrawal agreement is ratified before then.

Both noble Lords asked what happens next. As was made clear in the Statement, further talks will take place between the Government and the Opposition to seek a way forward, but the Prime Minister and the Government are clear that there is no easy way to break the deadlock. The talks are ongoing, so we need to see how things play out, but we are clear that we need to move quickly to conclude a process in everyone’s interests. The ideal outcome of the talks is to agree an approach to a future relationship that delivers on the referendum that both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition can put to the House of Commons for approval. As the Statement also made clear, if it is not possible to reach an agreement, the Government have said that we will put forward a small number of options for the future relationship, for the House of Commons to determine which course to pursue. These options would need to be agreed by the Opposition. We stand ready to abide by the decision made.

The noble Lord, Lord Newby, once again asked about a second referendum. The Prime Minister has made it clear that we want to deliver the result of the first referendum and we do not want a second referendum. The noble Lord is also aware that the House of Commons has voted against a second referendum on a number of occasions, so this is not a majority view in the House of Commons either.

The noble Lord also asked about compromise. We have compromised during the process. We have attempted to address issues around the backstop, for instance, which Members of the House of Commons have raised. We have also committed to ensuring that Parliament is more closely involved in the next phase of the negotiations. I assure the noble and learned Lord that we will continue to update this House regularly on progress and will, no doubt, be adding significantly to the 15 debates that the noble Lord, Lord Newby, identified that we have had already.