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Points of Order

Volume 664: debated on Tuesday 3 September 2019

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Let there be no doubt about the consequences of this vote tonight. It means that Parliament is on the brink of wrecking any deal that we might be able to strike with Brussels, because tomorrow’s Bill would hand control of the negotiations to the EU. That would mean more dither, more delay and more confusion, and it would mean that the EU itself would be able to decide how long to keep this country in the EU.

Since I refuse to go along with that plan, we are going to have to make a choice. I do not want an election. The public do not want an election. I do not believe the right hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) wants an election. But if the House votes for the Bill tomorrow, the public will have to choose who goes to Brussels on 17 October to sort this out and take this country forward. Everybody knows that, if the right hon. Gentleman is the Prime Minister, he will go to Brussels and beg for an extension, he will accept whatever Brussels demands, and we will have years more arguments over Brexit. By contrast, everyone knows that, if this Government are in charge and I go to Brussels, I will go for a deal and I believe I will get a deal, and we will leave anyway—even if we do not, we will leave anyway on 31 October.

The people of this country will have to choose. The Leader of the Opposition has been begging for an election for two years. He has crowds of supporters outside calling for an election. I do not want an election, but if MPs vote tomorrow to stop negotiations and to compel another pointless delay to Brexit, potentially for years, that would be the only way to resolve this, and I can confirm that we are tonight tabling a motion under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I welcome tonight’s vote. We live in a parliamentary democracy. We do not have a presidency; we have a Prime Minister. Prime Ministers govern with the consent of the House of Commons representing the people in whom sovereignty rests. There is no consent in this House to leave the EU without a deal. There is no majority for no deal in the country. As I have said before, if the Prime Minister has confidence in his Brexit policy—when he has one he can put forward—he should put it before the people in a public vote. So he wants to table a motion for a general election. Fine—get the Bill through first in order to take no deal off the table. [Interruption.]

Order. It is very rude for Members—[Interruption.] Order. I say to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster that, when he turns up at our children’s school as a parent, he is a very well-behaved fellow. He would not dare to behave like that in front of Colin Hall, and neither would I. Do not gesticulate. Do not rant. Spare us the theatrics. Behave yourself. Be a good boy, young man. Be a good boy. [Interruption.] Yes, we know the theatrics that the right hon. Gentleman perfected in the Oxford Union. We are not interested. Be quiet.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I have to say that the public will be watching these deliberations tonight, and what they will make of the baying and shouting that is coming from the Conservative side, heaven only knows.

This Prime Minister has a 100% record of losing votes in the House of Commons, and one would have thought that he would have some humility tonight, but that is sadly lacking. Prime Minister, perhaps you might consider acting as a Prime Minister should. Respect the vote that has taken place in the House tonight. Let us have a Bill tomorrow. The House will be able to express its opinion that it wishes to remove no deal as an option. Do not give us this nonsense of a fantasy that there is a deal to come from the Government, because it is simply not true.

The Government must respect the sovereignty of this House of Parliament. They must allow the Bill to be enacted—they must allow it to have Royal Assent—and yes, let us have an election, but let us have an election that respects the democracy of this House and the desire of parliamentarians to ensure that we do not crash out on a no-deal basis.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. Across the country, people have been protesting because they are worried. They are worried about the Prime Minister’s riding roughshod over our parliamentary democracy. Tonight the House of Commons has spoken: it has said that we will not let that happen.

Much as I relish the opportunity to take on the Prime Minister in a general election, it is vital—[Interruption.] It is vital that this House acts with responsibility, and does not take our country into an election at a point at which there is any risk that we will crash out of the European Union during that election campaign or immediately afterwards. We must act responsibly.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption.] I am not going to be shouted down, especially by any man.

Mr Speaker, tonight’s vote made even the Leader of the House sit up. This Parliament has spoken, and we have spoken on behalf of the jobs, livelihoods and futures of our constituents. Yet again, we have shown that we do not want a no-deal Brexit, and tomorrow we shall have the opportunity to make sure, yet again, that we do not crash out without a deal.

I remind the Prime Minister that, as one of the so-called leaders of the Leave campaign, he promised the people of this country that we would not leave the European Union without a deal. I think that this House now has the right to know the following. The rumour is that the whip will be withdrawn from every single member of the Conservative party who voted against their Government tonight. If that is the case, Mr Speaker, it must be the first time, and it would involve right hon. and hon. Members who have served their party—and, many would say, their country—for decades. Will the Prime Minister confirm whether they will have the whip withdrawn—yes or no?

Order. I do not think we need to conduct a debate on that matter across the Floor of the House—it is not a matter for adjudication by the Chair—but the right hon. Lady has made her own point in her own way, with her customary force. It is on the record, and she will doubtless wish to return to it in times to come.

Census (Return Particulars and Removal of Penalties) Bill [Lords]

Bill to be considered tomorrow.