Prorogation of Parliament — [Joan Ryan in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 6:17 pm on 9th September 2019.

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Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office 6:17 pm, 9th September 2019

No. The reasons for the Prorogation have been set out. To the arguments of those who have been shouting “Stop the coup!” and “Defend democracy!”, but then do not want to have a general election, it must be said that I cannot think of any example of a coup in history where a free and fair general election was offered immediately afterward. That argument is absolute nonsense.

Coming on to the more serious question that Martin Whitfield asked, he decided to raise a bit of a scare story about what would happen for an EU citizen coming to our border on 1 November. Luckily, he can visit the Government website; it is being promoted now and he can have a good read of it afterward. There is a section on crossing the border after Brexit and another section on EU citizens moving to the UK after Brexit, which would have answered his question.

However, the hon. Gentleman will be pleased to know that, as people come across the border on 1 November, which was the example he gave, nothing will change. They will still be able to use e-gates if they are travelling on a biometric passport, and will not face routine intentions testing. The website also goes on to say that those coming here between 31 October this year and 31 December next year will be able to move to the UK and live, study, work and access benefits and services as they do now. Bluntly, a simple Google would have revealed all that interesting information, and I certainly encourage people who have queries to look on that website.

It has been pointed out in the debate that these petitions are clearly distinct from one another in what they ask of the Government. The first, from March 2019, calls on the Government to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament. The second, launched last month, calls on the Government not to prorogue or dissolve Parliament unless and until the Government either revoke article 50 or seek a further extension. Like so much in Brexit, that makes it a debate where we cannot please everyone. In responding to these petitions, I will begin by setting out the process for proroguing Parliament, before turning to the specifics of the points made in the petitions.