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Revoking Article 50

Volume 660: debated on Monday 20 May 2019

Application for emergency debate (Standing Order No. 24)

I seek leave to propose that the House should debate a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely the revocation of the UK’s article 50 notification to the European Union.

As we know, the Brexit landscape is shifting literally by the day, but there have been some significant events recently that I believe have altered the direction of travel. The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have been locked for six weeks in cross-party talks that have facilitated no resolution whatsoever. The Prime Minister has now stated that she will bring back her withdrawal agreement for a fourth time on 3 June, and all indications are that it will fail again. That being the case, we know that the Conservative party has stated that it will then look for a new leader, and that means a new Prime Minister for this Government. The suggestion is that it is likely that that will be a hard Brexiteer, and a Member of Parliament and a Prime Minister who may take this country towards no deal, or leaving on World Trade Organisation terms. Just when the country was breathing a sigh of relief and thinking the danger of no deal had passed—the House has voted twice to ensure it does not happen—recent events have dangerously reignited that possibility.

I remind everybody that no deal means no transition period, which would mean, the day after leaving, no rules on tariffs and goods, no free movement of people, no security arrangements, and goods—medicines, for example—not being regulated as today. It would end overnight. This would constitute a grave act of harm to our economy, our security and the health of the nation. If it has not been possible to secure a confirmatory vote by 31 October, the House will have to seriously consider revocation of article 50 to stop the clock and prevent a no-deal Brexit. Mr Speaker, I would be grateful to hear your view on whether we should have this emergency debate.

The hon. Lady was admirably succinct. It is comparatively rare for a colleague to fall so short of the three minutes but nevertheless to have conveyed the point. The House is grateful to her. I have listened carefully to her application. I am not persuaded that this matter is proper to be discussed under Standing Order No. 24, but I want to add the following to complete what I regard as a satisfactory answer. The Standing Order requires that I do not give my reasons for the decision, but it may help her, other colleagues and those attending to our proceedings outside if I remind the House that the Standing Order also states:

“In determining whether a matter is urgent the Speaker shall have regard to the probability of the matter being brought before the House in time by other means.”

I have had such regard. I wanted her to have an opportunity to air this important point, and I have made this decision for now.