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Brexit - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:37 pm on 2nd October 2019.

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Photo of Lord Callanan Lord Callanan Minister of State (Department for Exiting the European Union) 3:37 pm, 2nd October 2019

My Lords, the Motion before us today asks the House to once again consider the UK’s withdrawal from the EU—which will take place on 31 October, with or without a deal. Of course, this House and its committees have been considering this topic with great scrutiny and interest ever since the 2016 referendum. I pay tribute to the stamina and continued focus of noble Lords in fulfilling this vital constitutional role.

The Government are committed to delivering on this instruction from the British people without any further pointless delay. The outcome that we want, and have always wanted, is a deal with the European Union—but if we cannot agree a new deal, we will have to leave without one.

I must commend noble Lords, including the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, on their excellent timing in scheduling this debate today; events are indeed unfolding fairly rapidly as we speak. I first highlight to noble Lords that, a short while ago, we published details of the Government’s proposals for alternatives to the backstop. A copy of the Written Ministerial Statement and supporting documentation is now available for noble Lords to collect from the Printed Paper Office.

I recognise, of course, that noble Lords would like to take time to review and consider the content of the WMS and documents, the details of which I will set out in a moment. Before I do that, I reassure noble Lords by confirming that they will have the opportunity to discuss this further in a Statement tomorrow.

This Government have made considerable progress in their negotiations with the EU. We have been working hard to negotiate changes to the withdrawal agreement and political declaration. The Prime Minister has been clear on the nature of these changes. We are unconditionally committed to finding a solution for the north/south border which protects the Belfast agreement, the commitments of which can best be met if we explore solutions other than the backstop. The backstop risks—