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EU Referendum: Delivery of Result

Volume 617: debated on Thursday 1 December 2016

6. What steps the Government are taking to ensure that the result of the EU referendum is delivered in a timely manner. (907595)

The Prime Minister set out the timetable for triggering article 50 by the end of March 2017. We will soon put before Parliament the great repeal Bill, which will remove from the statute book the European Communities Act 1972 and bring back sovereignty to this Parliament.

Those of us who campaigned for 30 years to take back control did not campaign for this elected House of Commons to be bypassed. My view is that we should have produced that Bill to trigger article 50. There should be a full debate on Second Reading, and let hon. Members who want to vote against it take the consequences. My right hon. Friend will not agree with that, but will he agree with this: that if he loses the court case, there will be no further faffing about, no delay, no draft Bill; he will produce a Bill within days, there will be a full debate—for at least two days—and then this House will get a chance to vote on article 50?

I understand my hon. Friend’s impatience after, as he says, 30 years of campaigning, but there have been 40 years of membership of the Union and it takes some time to decide on the best way of removing us from the Union in the way that people want. On the court case, it is not just a yes/no outcome in December/January. The actual nature of the Bill may be influenced by the outcome, but within that context, yes, we will carry on as rapidly as we possibly can.

With reference to delivering Brexit in a timely manner, the Secretary of State will be aware that there is a two-year timescale once article 50 is triggered. Is it the Government’s policy that both the Brexit negotiations and the future trade arrangements should be agreed within that two-year period, or are they open to a transitional arrangement if that is not possible?

The answer to the right hon. Gentleman’s question is yes. There are other questions on transitional arrangements that I will come to in detail later, as the Speaker will pull me up if I do not. The answer is yes; we want to see them both done in parallel inside the two years.

As I know from talking to businesses up and down the country, whether they voted to leave or to remain, there is overwhelming consensus—they want get on with this. Uncertainty is the one threat, as opposed to the comically inaccurate forecasts, which have been proved completely wrong, by the remain side. Can the Secretary of State confirm that whichever way the appeal goes in the Supreme Court—the Government do have very good arguments—there will still be time to pass the necessary legislation, if required, and to stick to the timetable of triggering article 50 by the end of March?

I congratulate the Government on the sophistication of their approach to Brexit. Deploying the Foreign Secretary to declare his undying support for free movement of labour is a masterly addition to the policy of chaos and confusion at the heart of the Government’s strategy. If 121 days is a long time in politics, how many days before 31 March will the Government narrow down their range of policies to one and tell us what it is? [Interruption.]

I hear from behind me, “How is your poll rating?” I would not be so cruel to my old friend. We will use all 121 days to get the best possible policy for us and then we will put that single policy to the European Union.