My Lords, the problem we have today is that we are constrained on time. That is entirely the fault of the Government for deciding that Prorogation should take place next week. Therefore, we are in something of a constraint. We owe a great deal to my noble friend the Chief Whip, the noble Baroness the Leader of the Opposition and those who reached a sensible compromise solution in the early hours of Thursday morning. We are grateful to them. They say, and I accept, that we need to conclude proceedings on the Bill today. This is because of the Prorogation guillotine, which was announced by the Prime Minister two weeks after he decided to do it—we know that from the depositions in the Scottish court.
I regret that there is no Minister to reply to these debates. It is frankly an insult to the House and I deeply regret it. But when he was here yesterday my noble friend Lord Callanan made it quite plain that he knew that our European friends and neighbours would accept two things. One was the revocation of Article 50. Clearly that will not happen and I do not want it to happen, but he also made it plain that the deal that had been on the table—Prime Minister May’s deal—was still possible. He also made the point that he had enthusiastically promoted it, as indeed he had. All members—I correct myself—most members of Mrs May’s Government promoted it valiantly.
I believe that we now have the opportunity under the Bill, imperfectly drafted as I acknowledge it is, with the Kinnock amendment, to bring the Theresa May deal back and enable this Parliament to make a decision with a fourth vote on it. I am bound to say that I believe it will be a service to the country to do that. As I said yesterday, it is only the beginning of the beginning, because there are many more rounds of negotiations to take place, but it would at least mean that we had something that had been supported by the present Prime Minister and Mr Rees-Mogg in the third vote, so clearly they believed it was the right thing to do at that time. I wish we could now get on and do it.