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House of Commons Hansard
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European Union (Withdrawal)
03 September 2019
Volume 664

Emergency debate (Standing Order No. 24)

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I remind the House—it is a case of reminding as reference was made to this matter only a few moments ago—that a paper with the terms of the motion has been distributed.

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I beg to move,

That this House has considered the matter of the need to take all necessary steps to ensure that the United Kingdom does not leave the European Union on 31 October 2019 without a withdrawal agreement and accordingly makes provision as set out in this order:

(1) On Wednesday 4 September 2019

(a) Standing Order No. 14(1) (which provides that government business shall have precedence at every sitting save as provided in that order) shall not apply;

(b) any proceedings governed by this order may be proceeded with until any hour, though opposed, and shall not be interrupted;

(c) the Speaker may not propose the question on the previous question, and may not put any question under Standing Order No. 36 (Closure of debate) or Standing Order No. 163 (Motion to sit in private);

(d) at 3.00 pm, the Speaker shall interrupt any business prior to the business governed by this order and call a Member to present the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill of which notice of presentation has been given and immediately thereafter (notwithstanding the practice of the House) call a Member to move the motion that the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill be now read a second time as if it were an order of the House;

(e) in respect of that Bill, notices of Amendments, new Clauses and new Schedules to be moved in Committee may be accepted by the Clerks at the Table before the Bill has been read a second time.

(f) any proceedings interrupted or superseded by this order may be resumed or (as the case may be) entered upon and proceeded with after the moment of interruption.

(2) The provisions of paragraphs (3) to (18) of this order shall apply to and in connection with the proceedings on the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill in the present Session of Parliament.

Timetable for the Bill on Wednesday 4 September 2019

(3) (a) Proceedings on Second Reading and in Committee of the whole House, any proceedings on Consideration and proceedings up to and including Third Reading shall be taken at the sitting on Wednesday 4 September 2019 in accordance with this Order.

(b) Proceedings on Second Reading shall be brought to a conclusion (so far as not previously concluded) at 5.00 pm.

(c) Proceedings in Committee of the whole House, any proceedings on Consideration and proceedings up to and including Third Reading shall be brought to a conclusion (so far as not previously concluded) at 7.00 pm.

Timing of proceedings and Questions to be put on Wednesday 4 September 2019

(4) When the Bill has been read a second time:

(a) it shall, notwithstanding Standing Order No. 63 (Committal of bills not subject to a programme order), stand committed to a Committee of the whole House without any Question being put;

(b) the Speaker shall leave the Chair whether or not notice of an Instruction has been given.

(5) (a) On the conclusion of proceedings in Committee of the whole House, the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without putting any Question.

(b) If the Bill is reported with amendments, the House shall proceed to consider the Bill as amended without any Question being put.

(6) For the purpose of bringing any proceedings to a conclusion in accordance with paragraph (3), the Chairman or Speaker shall forthwith put the following Questions in the same order as they would fall to be put if this Order did not apply—

(a) any Question already proposed from the Chair;

(b) any Question necessary to bring to a decision a Question so proposed;

(c) the Question on any amendment, new clause or new schedule selected by the Chairman or Speaker for separate decision;

(d) the Question on any amendment moved or Motion made by a designated Member;

(e) any other Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded; and shall not put any other Questions, other than the Question on any motion described in paragraph (16) of this Order.

(7) On a Motion made for a new Clause or a new Schedule, the Chairman or Speaker shall put only the Question that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill.

Consideration of Lords Amendments and Messages on a subsequent day

(8) If any message on the Bill (other than a message that the House of Lords agrees with the Bill without amendment or agrees with any message from this House) is expected from the House of Lords on any future sitting day, the House shall not adjourn until that message has been received and any proceedings under paragraph (10) have been concluded.

(9) On any day on which such a message is received, if a designated Member indicates to the Speaker an intention to proceed to consider that message—

(a) notwithstanding Standing Order No. 14(1) (which provides that government business shall have precedence at every sitting save as provided in that order), any Lords Amendments to the Bill or any further Message from the Lords on the Bill may be considered forthwith without any Question being put; and any proceedings interrupted for that purpose shall be suspended accordingly;

(b) proceedings on consideration of Lords Amendments or on any further Message from the Lords shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour after their commencement; and any proceedings suspended under subparagraph (a) shall thereupon be resumed;

(c) the Speaker may not propose the question on the previous question, and may not put any question under Standing Order No. 36 (Closure of debate) or Standing Order No. 163 (Motion to sit in private) in the course of those proceedings.

(10) If such a message is received on or before the commencement of public business on Monday 9 September and a designated Member indicates to the Speaker an intention to proceed to consider that message, that message shall be considered before any order of the day or notice of motion which stands on the Order Paper.

(11) Paragraphs (2) to (7) of Standing Order No. 83F (Programme orders: conclusion of proceedings on consideration of Lords amendments) apply for the purposes of bringing any proceedings on consideration of Lords Amendments to a conclusion as if:

(a) any reference to a Minister of the Crown were a reference to a designated Member;

(b) after paragraph (4)(a) there is inserted –

“(aa) the question on any amendment or motion selected by the Speaker for separate decision;”.

(12) Paragraphs (2) to (5) of Standing Order No. 83G (Programme orders: conclusion of proceedings on further messages from the Lords) apply for the purposes of bringing any proceedings on consideration of a Lords Message to a conclusion as if:

(a) any reference to a Minister of the Crown were a reference to a designated Member;

(b) in paragraph (5), the words “subject to paragraphs (6) and (7)” were omitted.

Reasons Committee

(13) Paragraphs (2) to (6) of Standing Order No. 83H (Programme orders: reasons committee) apply in relation to any committee to be appointed to draw up reasons after proceedings have been brought to a conclusion in accordance with this Order as if any reference to a Minister of the Crown were a reference to a designated Member.

Miscellaneous

(14) Standing Order No. 82 (Business Committee) shall not apply in relation to any proceedings on the Bill to which this Order applies.

(15) No Motion shall be made, except by a designated Member, to alter the order in which any proceedings on the Bill are taken, to recommit the Bill or to vary or supplement the provisions of this Order.

(16) (a) No dilatory Motion shall be made in relation to proceedings on the Bill to which this Order applies except by a designated Member.

(b) The Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith.

(17) Proceedings to which this Order applies shall not be interrupted under any Standing Order relating to the sittings of the House.

(18) No private business may be considered at any sitting to which the provisions of this order apply.

Motion under section 3(2)(b) of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019

(19) No motion may be made by a Minister of the Crown under section 3(2)(b) of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 prior to Monday 9 September.

Royal Assent

(20) At the sittings on Monday 9 September, Tuesday 10 September and Wednesday 11 September, the House shall not adjourn until the Speaker shall have reported the Royal Assent to any Act agreed upon by both Houses.

Proceedings in next Session of Parliament

(21) The provisions of paragraphs (22) and (23) of this order apply to and in connection with proceedings on a Bill in the next Session of the present Parliament if—

(a) the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill has been read the third time in the present Session of Parliament but has not received the Royal Assent;

(b) the Speaker is satisfied that the Bill is in similar terms to the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill in the present Session of Parliament;

(c) notice of presentation of the Bill is to be given by a designated Member.

(22) Where the conditions in paragraph (21) are met, Standing Order No. 14(11) (which relates to precedence in respect of private Members’ Bills) shall not apply in respect of the Bill in the new Session and notice of presentation of that Bill may be given on the first day of the new Session accordingly.

(23) Where the conditions in paragraph (21) are met, the provisions of paragraphs (1), (3) to (9) and (11) to (18) shall apply to proceedings on and in connection with the Bill in the new Session as they apply to the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill and any reference in this order to Wednesday 4 September shall apply as if it were a reference to the second day of the new Session.

Interpretation, etc

(24) In this Order, “a designated Member” means—

(a) the Member in charge of the Bill in the present Session of Parliament; and

(b) any other Member backing the Bill in the present Session of Parliament and acting on behalf of that Member.

(25) This order shall be a Standing Order of the House.

This Motion arises because of four facts. The first fact is that, over the past six weeks, the Government have not produced a single indication of any viable proposal to replace the backstop by any alternative likely to prove acceptable to the EU. The likelihood of the Government reaching a deal at the European Council meeting on 17 and 18 October on the terms that the Government themselves have set is accordingly slight.

The second fact is that this is the last week in which Parliament will have the ability to block a no-deal exit on 31 October, because the Government are proroguing us until 14 October, and they have made it clear that they will fight in the courts any legislation proposed and passed to mandate an extension of the article 50 process. There will not be time after 14 October for Parliament both to legislate and for that legislation to be enforced on a reluctant Government through the courts.

The third fact is that, in the absence of a deal with the EU on the terms that the Government themselves have set and in the absence of an order from the Supreme Court that the Government should apply to extend the article 50 period, the Government will lead our country into a no-deal exit on 31 October. That has been made clear by the Prime Minister on repeated occasions.

The fourth and final fact is that, instead of constituting a threat to the EU that will force them to capitulate and remove the backstop, the Government’s intention or willingness to lead the country into a no-deal exit is a threat to our country. The Prime Minister is much in the position of someone standing on one side of a canyon shouting to people on the other side of the canyon that if they do not do as he wishes, he will throw himself into the abyss. That is not a credible negotiating strategy, and it is also not a responsible strategy, given that the rest of us are to be dragged over the edge with the Prime Minister.

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I thank my right hon. Friend for giving way. Most of us in this place would prefer a good trade deal to no deal, but does he not understand that, in any negotiation, the chances of a bad deal materially increase if one signals to the other side that one is not prepared to walk away? Does he not see that?

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These are difficult matters of judgment, and I respect the judgment that my hon. Friend makes, but it is different from mine. When we were negotiating the coalition between the Conservative party and the Liberal Democrats, which gave rise to a rather good Government, we were sitting around wondering how to conduct those negotiations. We came to the conclusion that actually we should disobey the rules of negotiation that my hon. Friend is describing and offer a bold and imaginative offer to the other side, which was then accepted, and we formed a coalition on the terms on which we wished to form it by mutual accord. That is the way in which I believe these negotiations can proceed. To offer a threat which actually harms us many times more than those against whom the threat is supposedly levelled is not, as I say, a credible negotiating strategy. I accept that our judgments differ on that, but that is my judgment. It is a matter for the House to decide which of the two judgments is correct.

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Will my right hon. Friend give way?

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Before I give way, I will say that this will be the last intervention I will take before I move on a bit.

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If my right hon. Friend recalls, the Foreign Affairs Committee’s report on no deal two weeks before we gave notice under article 50, which was unanimously agreed across a Committee wholly split on the merits of the issue, concluded that the damage that would be done by the failure to get an agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union would be greater for the European Union in material terms, but greater for the United Kingdom in proportionate terms. However, the absolute damage being represented on the other side is at stake, so his negotiation—

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Order. It is very selfish if an intervention is so long as to prevent other people from getting in.

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I agree with my hon. Friend that the proportions are different from the absolutes, but I fear that my hon. Friend’s Committee’s report was deficient, in my view, in an important respect. There is a counterbalancing point from the EU’s perspective, and that is that actually demonstrating that it causes great pain proportionately to the country that is doing it is regarded as a significant political, ideological and geopolitical advantage. We have no similar advantage, so the threat to our prosperity and the welfare of our people is the only issue that arises, whereas for the EU there is a positive advantage in a no-deal exit to be balanced against the absolute and proportionately much smaller effect on the member states’ economies. Again, my hon. Friend and I may differ in that judgment, but that is the judgment that we are asking the House to make, and I take the view that I have espoused.

In the light of the four facts—the slender chance of a deal being struck on the Government’s terms; the fact that this is Parliament’s last chance to block a no-deal exit on 31 October; the fact that without a parliamentary block the Government are willing to take us into a no deal; and the fact that prospect of such a disorderly and undemocratic no-deal exit is a threat to our prosperity and our Union, rather than an effective negotiating strategy with the EU—we are putting forward to the House today a motion, the sole purpose of which is to enable the House tomorrow to debate and vote on a Bill in the names of the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn) and my right hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt). If the House votes for this motion tonight, it will give itself the ability to vote for that Bill tomorrow. That Bill will mandate the Prime Minister to seek an extension to 31 January unless he has either got a deal in place at the end of the European Council meeting in October and has got it agreed by Parliament or has got Parliament to agree to a no-deal exit by 19 October.

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I thank my right hon. Friend for giving way. He said just now that he thinks there is only a very slender chance of a deal—I disagree with him on that point—and also that he wishes to block no deal. If he sees little or no chance of a deal and little or no chance of no deal, what is the point of an extension to 31 January just to do this again and again? Can he not see the damage that would be done to businesses by having this process repeated every three months ad infinitum?

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Uncertainty does create difficulty for business. A no-deal exit will create a great deal more difficulty for business, in my judgment.

The purpose of the extension, which will no doubt be debated extensively if this motion is passed and there is a debate on the Bill tomorrow, is very clear. It is to provide the Government with the time to seek to solve this problem and to enable Parliament to help to resolve an issue that has proved very difficult.

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Will my right hon. Friend give way?

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I am afraid that I will not give way again.

I do not say it is easy to do it by 31 January, but I am sure it will not be done by 31 October. We are between a rock and a hard place, and in this instance the hard place is better than the rock—it is as simple as that. It is decision time. If hon. Members across the House want to prevent a no-deal exit on 31 October, they will have the opportunity to do so if, but only if, they vote for this motion this evening. I hope they will do so.

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I rise to support the motion in the name of the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin).

During my time in this House every Prime Minister has accepted that there can be honourable disagreements, and I have had many disagreements with each and every one of them. That has led to many votes in this House, which have not always been entered into with certainty on the outcome or on victory, but both sides have always done so safe in the knowledge that this Parliament is sovereign and can act as an effective block on any abuse of power. I therefore urge all MPs on all sides to stand up for what is right and for what they believe in, and to support this cross-party move.

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Does my right hon. Friend agree that, if we are to trust the Prime Minister that a deal is in sight, he should do all he can to show evidence of the progress he has made in the negotiations over the summer and publish the Government’s proposals?

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My hon. Friend makes a pertinent point because, in the six weeks or so since the Prime Minister took office, apparently no proposals have been put to the European Union and there have been no substantive negotiations. He keeps talking about the prospect of progress being made. Well, one would have thought he would have something practical to report to the House by this stage, and, so far, he has not.

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If a motion for an October general election comes forward before the end of the week, will the right hon. Gentleman vote for it? Yes or no.

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We are ready for a general election, ready to take on this Government and ready to win a general election to end austerity and poverty across this country, but just look at what we face: a Government determined to subvert the democratic process and to force through a policy that a majority of this House do not support and that has been defeated emphatically twice in this House; a Government who are so determined to continue on their reckless path that they are willing to use every trick in the book and to find every loophole to try to silence this House, and we cannot stand idly by.

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I think I am correct in saying that, in 2015, the Leader of the Opposition voted for the referendum. Did he mean to abide by the result?

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Yes, the Labour Opposition did support the referendum and did take part in the referendum campaign. We also made it very clear at the general election that we would not countenance a no-deal exit from the European Union because of the damage it would do. We cannot hope for another opportunity further down the line to stop this Government’s destructive course. There is no more time—they have taken it away—and this may be our last opportunity. Today we must act.

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Many constituents and businesses in Midlothian have contacted me, and they are very worried about the grave danger of a no-deal Brexit and the effect it would have. What does my right hon. Friend think about the effect of a no-deal Brexit on our people and businesses across the country?

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I was with my hon. Friend in Scotland last week, and we heard concerns from many people, particularly those who trade extensively with Europe, about the effect of a no-deal Brexit and the damage it would do to their businesses and the jobs that go with them.

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The right hon. Gentleman says he wants to avoid a no deal, but he voted against the deal three times. Exactly what changes to the withdrawal agreement would he like to see if he were ever to vote for it?

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I think I am right in saying that on two occasions I voted alongside the Prime Minister against those deals.

I understand that Members on both sides of the House are under a great deal of pressure in what is, regrettably, an extremely volatile political climate, but if you truly trust in what all the analysis shows—including the Government’s own analysis, as was demonstrated earlier—if you believe in what the experts say and if you understand that a no-deal Brexit will be a disaster for this country, you must act now.

With that in mind, I pay tribute to those who have shown the political courage to boldly stand up for what they believe in by bringing this debate to the House. The bullying and the threats to Conservative Members from their own side is unprecedented, but let me offer some words of encouragement. [Interruption.] It is all right; I am trying to help. Standing by your principles does not always damage your future prospects.

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I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving way, but may I suggest that he should be careful with his selection of evidence? The Treasury, the International Monetary Fund and the Bank of England all made predictions of doom and gloom if we voted to leave in 2016. They said there would be economic disaster by Christmas 2016, and they were all wrong. Since then there has been record low unemployment, record manufacturing output and record investment, in the full knowledge that no deal is better than a bad deal.

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I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. The only problem is that it flies in the face of all the facts that are published day in, day out. The value of the pound is falling and manufacturing industry is falling, and I will come on to a number of other industries that are seriously at threat.

I pay tribute to those people across all parties who have come together and continued to work to make a stand against this Government’s reckless and shambolic approach. The Prime Minister says that now is not the time for Parliament to make this stand. He says the chances of a Brexit deal are improving and that the outlines of an agreement are in the making, yet all the evidence points to the contrary. So far, in their six weeks in office, this Government have spent more time trying to avoid scrutiny and trying to silence Parliament than focusing on getting a good deal for this country. With weeks to go until we crash out of the European Union, they have failed to bring forward any new proposals, especially with regard to the Irish backstop.

Even if the Government had worked up new plans or presented a way forward, it seems very unlikely that the EU would agree to the Prime Minister’s red line of scrapping the backstop. As the Attorney General reportedly put it, such a proposition would be a “complete fantasy.” The reality is that no progress has been made in Brussels, nor is there likely to be. This reckless Government only have one plan: to crash out of the EU without a deal, at whatever price to our industry, to people’s jobs and to people’s living standards.

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I have given way many times to Conservative Members, so I will continue.

That is why so many people across this House will stand up to say no to no deal. It has been exposed today, as reported in The Daily Telegraph, that the Prime Minister’s chief of staff called negotiations a “sham” and that the real strategy is to run down the clock. That is why it is incumbent on us, as Members of Parliament, to act today. Voting to block no deal will not kill the positive momentum in Brexit negotiations, because there is no momentum in the Brexit negotiations to kill. What we are asking MPs today to do is to rule out playing Russian roulette with this country’s future, with our industry, our national health service, and people’s jobs and livelihoods all at stake for the Government’s trying to retain power.

Let us not forget what no deal means for this country. No deal will decimate our manufacturing industry. No deal will destroy our agricultural sector.

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I am sure my right hon. Friend knows that the west midlands group of MPs has undertaken lots of consultations. We have another meeting tomorrow with businesses in the west midlands, because they are concerned about the implications of no deal. Does he agree that it is imperative that we get a proper deal to safeguard the millions of jobs up and down the country, particularly those in the west midlands and Coventry?

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My hon. Friend is right to say that the west midlands will be particularly hard hit, because so much of its industry relies on just-in-time deliveries from the continent, as well as exports to it, and on a manufacturing process that means that, if any interruption whatsoever happens, there is chaos immediately at the point of production, as well as at the transport system that supplies those places. There has to be some realistic understanding in this House of the implications of a no-deal Brexit for the west midlands, as well as for other parts of this country.

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rose—

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I have given way many times to many people, and I am sure the hon. Gentleman will make a wonderful contribution when he gets to make his speech.

No deal threatens peace and stability in Northern Ireland, and threatens our policing and counter-terrorism co-operation with Europe. No deal will mean food shortages and medical shortages, and it will bring chaos to our ports and transport networks. Earlier, we had a Minister at the Dispatch Box proudly telling us that 1,000 more staff have been employed in order to deal with congestion that will be happening at the channel ports. Is that not an indication of the Government’s own admission of what the problems are going to be if we leave with no deal?

Our economy is already fragile—the economy contracted in the last quarter and manufacturing has contracted at the fastest pace for seven years—and no deal would accelerate that decline. As I said, now is not the time to play Russian roulette with our economy. These are not the warnings of some ultra-remain group. These are warnings outlined in the Government’s own assessments and the warnings of leading industry figures. Members do not have to take my word for it. They do not have to listen to me if they do not want to. Instead, they can listen to the likes of Make UK, which represents 20,000 British manufacturing companies and has said that leaving without a deal would be

“the height of economic lunacy”.

They can listen to the National Farmers Union, which has said that no deal would have a “devastating impact” on British food and farming and

“must be avoided at all costs”.

Or they can listen to the British Medical Association, which has made clear:

“The consequences of ‘no deal’ could have potentially catastrophic consequences for patients, the health workforce and services, and the nation’s health.”

We must listen to what every sector of society is telling us regarding the damage of a no-deal Brexit and what it will do to our society and our economy. If we, as a Parliament, do not make this stand today, there may not be another opportunity—it may simply be too late. We must listen to those warnings, If people in this House know better than the BMA, the NFU or Make UK about their own sectors, or know better than the trade unions that represent the people working in those plants and delivery facilities all over the country, they should say so now. I have met trade unionists all over the country in the past few months and spoken to the TUC about this. They are all deeply worried about the continued job losses in manufacturing because of the uncertainty that no deal will bring.

I understand that there will be some concern about the Bill that may follow this debate—some concern from Members across the House that supporting such a Bill would be an attempt to block Brexit or reverse the results of the 2016 referendum. That is not the case; this Bill does not close other options to resolve the Brexit impasse. The Bill is about preventing a damaging no deal, for which this Government have no mandate and for which there is very little public support. The Bill is designed purely to provide vital breathing space in order to find an alternative way through the Brexit mess that this and the previous Government have created.

Today is another historic day in Parliament. It is our chance to seize this last opportunity and to stand up to a bullying Government who have shown themselves ready to dodge scrutiny and silence debate. If we do not act today, we may not get another chance. Whether people voted leave or remain, they did not vote to shut down democracy. The very large number of people who were on the streets last Saturday, from both the leave and remain views, were very concerned about the way in which this Government are trying to shut down debate, shut down democracy and lead us into what I believe would be the problems of a no-deal Brexit. So I urge all MPs today to do what they believe to be right for their constituents—for their jobs, their living standards and their communities—and support the proposal today that we may debate the Bill tomorrow and prevent a no-deal Brexit, with all the damage it would do to our community and to our society.

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It is a pleasure to speak in this debate, brought to us by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin), and to follow the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition.

The Prime Minister has said, including in his statement earlier, that this Government are absolutely committed to delivering Brexit on 31 October. We must deliver the largest democratic mandate in this nation’s history. Delivering the referendum result requires this House to respect the voice of the people as expressed in that historic vote—so far, the House has failed to do so. And now, instead of backing the Prime Minister and giving him the best possible chance of securing a deal before the UK leaves the European Union on 31 October, we find ourselves debating a proposition that seeks to confound the referendum result again. Mr Speaker, I wish to be clear: what is proposed today is constitutionally irregular.

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Would the right hon. Gentleman remind the House: how many times did he vote against the deal?

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The deal is dreadful, which is why the Prime Minister is getting a better one—if only the House would let him. However, this is irregular, both in terms of the approach to allowing SO 24s on substantive motions and in terms of the subversion of Parliament’s proper role in scrutinising and the Executive’s in initiating.

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The right hon. Gentleman will know the importance of the Good Friday agreement to the people of Northern Ireland. He will also know, as a Unionist, that without a deal there will be an inevitable hardening of the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which will incentivise Sinn Féin to agitate for a border poll to take Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom and into the Republic of Ireland—into a united Ireland. How on earth could he defend the indefensible?

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Because I simply disagree with the hon. Lady—there would have to be a political desire to impose a hard border, and neither the United Kingdom nor the Government of the Republic of Ireland have such a desire.

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I have a certain fondness for the right hon. Gentleman, stemming from our time on the restoration and renewal Committee some years ago. I will tell him what is constitutionally irregular: shutting down Parliament, shutting down debate and shutting down the ability of MPs to hold this Government to account. Can he therefore tell me when he became aware of the Prime Minister’s plan to shut down Parliament in order to force through a no-deal Brexit? Papers in the Court of Session today suggest that this was the Prime Minister’s plan on 16 August.

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As Parliament is not being shut down—cannot be shut down—I could not be aware of plans to do something that is not happening, so the hon. Gentleman is simply wrong.

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My right hon. Friend will be aware that the majority of Members—colleagues—who will vote against the Government tonight voted to trigger article 50, which said that we would leave the EU with or without a deal. It was very simple and very clear. Which bit does he think they now do not understand?

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They do not like losing referendums and never accepted the result.

I must come back to the constitutional issue, because this motion risks subverting Parliament’s proper role in scrutinising and the Executive’s in initiating. You in particular, Mr Speaker, have a grave responsibility, of which I know you are well aware, to uphold the norms and conventions that underpin our constitution, but we all have a role to play, and it does considerable damage when some of us choose to subvert rather than reinforce—to hinder rather than to polish—our constitution.

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The Leader of the House is talking about the alleged subversion of democracy. He seemed not to answer the hon. Member for Airdrie and Shotts (Neil Gray), so I ask clearly: first, on what date did the Leader of the House first become aware of the plan to prorogue Parliament? Secondly, have any officials from his office, 10 Downing Street or elsewhere, whether political advisers or civil servants, been conducting communications away from the normal channels, in such a way that would not comply with the terms of candour and disclosure necessary for the court proceedings that are currently taking place?

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If people were carrying out discussions without candour, I would not know about them so would not be able to tell the hon. Gentleman whether they had happened. I carry out all my discussions with candour and—if anybody is interested—the Privy Council’s function is reported in the Court Circular.

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Were we to leave the EU on a no-deal basis, in effect that would mean that we would operate on World Trade Organisation rules. Given that the EU currently operates on WTO rules with a number of countries—including the US, China, Russia, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and many others—does my right hon. Friend agree that we should not be fearful of trading on WTO rules outside the EU? We already trade on WTO rules in the EU.

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My hon. Friend makes a brilliant and incisive point and is absolutely right.

We need to examine what is being put forward to the House and to consider the concerning and odd fact that it is actually being permitted in the first place. Let us look at Standing Order No. 24 and the approach we are taking. As you know, Mr Speaker, I take an interest in the rules of the House.

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I was astonished to hear my right hon. Friend agree that we would be perfectly all right to proceed on WTO rules. Does he accept that WTO rules will require the European Union to apply tariffs against our agriculture, fisheries and much of our manufacturing, in line with the tariffs it imposes against other third-party countries, and that WTO rules will require us to have a closed border in Ireland to enforce those restrictions? We cannot have it one way and another: we either obey the WTO rules or we ignore those as well and pretend we are going into some never-never land, but my right hon. Friend cannot simply accept calmly the argument that WTO rules would do no damage to our economy.

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I must confess that I am surprised by my right hon. and learned Friend’s astonishment because I have been making the case for WTO rules for some time. It has been a sensible way to proceed and will allow us to carry on trading as we do with many other countries.

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My right hon. Friend says that the House’s role is one of scrutiny, and I agree, yet does he not see that there is an incompatibility between that scrutiny and in fact taking steps through Prorogation to deprive us of the effective opportunity to carry it out? When considering that, he may also agree with me that so much in this House depends on trust. How can we have trust when there have already been a number of examples of the Government’s making inaccurate statements, such as, first, that the papers prepared for its Yellowhammer briefing were the product of a previous Administration when they were not; and secondly, and perhaps most pertinently, when it appears that the facts as stated by the Government as to the reasons for Prorogation have turned out to be entirely inaccurate and are now causing the Government considerable difficulties over their duty of candour in litigation? When he aggregates all that together, perhaps my right hon. Friend might begin to understand why many of us have finally decided that this House must take action.

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My right hon. and learned Friend is very learned but his learning does not always lead him in the right direction. The Prorogation is completely routine. When I was first—and, indeed, last—at this Dispatch Box, the Opposition Front Bench was asking for the Session to be brought to an end. We were merely being our obliging selves in leading forth to a new Queen’s Speech in the general course of events.

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Will the Leader of the House give way?

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In due course, because we always like to hear from the hon. Gentleman, who informs and educates us when he speaks—

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Can I do it now?

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No. We are going to have to wait for this informing and educating. We are all bating our breath for it, but I like to keep people on tenterhooks for the time being, because I wish to talk about our old friend “Erskine May”, which sets out your role, Mr Speaker. The chief characteristics attached the office of Speaker in the House of Commons are authority and impartiality. It would be disorderly, wrong and not my intention to question your impartiality, Mr Speaker, but, as with the umpires at Edgbaston who saw eight of their decisions sent for review and overturned, accepting somebody’s impartiality is not the same as accepting their infallibility.

It is worth noting what a wise and scholarly Speaker once said—indeed, this wise and scholarly Speaker said as recently as last year that a debate held under Standing Order No. 24 could be held on a substantive and amendable motion only if the Standing Order is itself amended. In April 2018, in the light of two emergency debates on the UK’s decision to take military action in Syria, you yourself, Mr Speaker, said that

“it is perfectly open to the House to amend Standing Order No. 24, of which there is some uncertainty and often incomprehension. It could be amended to allow for the tabling of substantive motions in circumstances of emergency, which could also be amendable and on which the House could vote. If there are Members who are interested in that line of inquiry, they could usefully raise it with the Chair of the Procedure Committee”.—[Official Report, 19 April 2018; Vol. 639, c. 475.]

As far as I am aware, no change has been made to Standing Order No. 24, yet the decision has changed—varius et mutabilis semper dictor.

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The Leader of the House said earlier that Parliament is not being suspended, but in this case it is. He knows perfectly well that Select Committees will not be able to sit and, as according to the Bill of Rights, there will be absolutely no proceedings of Parliament while Parliament is prorogued. I want Parliament to prorogue, but I want it to prorogue only for four or five days so that we can do our job of scrutinising the Government through proceedings in Parliament. That is the point: we want a Queen’s Speech but we also want to be able to come back and do our job.

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The hon. Gentleman knows the procedures of this House only too well. He knows that we are about to go, in some cases, to the seaside for party conferences—in the case of my party, to a major city centre. That is why we are taking four or five days of parliamentary time and simply going over the normal recess. That is not in any sense an abuse.

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Will the Leader of the House go back to his point about Standing Order No. 24? It seems to me that he is absolutely correct—as Mr Speaker was correct in his previous statement—that this could not be on a substantive motion. If the motion, which appears to be substantive, is carried tonight, it seems to me that the Government would have every right to declare it ultra vires and ignore it.

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Order. I know that the hon. Gentleman will not presume to argue with the judgment of the Chair, entitled as he is to the possession and expression of his opinion. What I say to him in order to help him and to assist the Leader of the House is this: if, in the judgment of the Chair, a motion under Standing Order No. 24 is expressed in neutral terms, it will not be open to amendment—if it is judged to be expressed in neutral terms. The reality of the matter is that there have been previous occasions upon which there have been Standing Order No. 24 motion debates which have contained what I would prefer to call evaluative motions, notably on 18 March 2013 and on 11 December 2018 with which I feel sure the Leader of the House is familiar. It is in conformity with that practice that I have operated. I have taken advice of a professional kind, and I am entirely satisfied that the judgment that I have made is consistent with that advice. My attitude is simply to seek to facilitate the House. The Leader of the House rightly referred to my responsibility as grave and solemn, and I completely accept that as well as I accept his right to his own view about my judgment in this matter. I have sought to exercise my judgment in discharging my responsibility to facilitate the House of Commons—to facilitate the Legislature. I have done it, I am doing it, and I will do it to the best of my ability without fear or favour—or, to coin a phrase, come what may, do or die.

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I am grateful, as always, Mr Speaker, for your contribution to the debate. It is always very useful that your words are referred to and that the House should be reminded of them. It was suggested by you that this matter should be referred to the Procedure Committee and that the motion should be amended, which it has not been.

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There is so much to say and so little time, and others want to speak.

This motion is extraordinary in a number of ways.

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rose

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I will, of course, give way to the hon. and learned Lady.

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I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. I wonder whether I might go back to the matter raised by the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve). It was revealed in court this morning in a case raised in my name and that of 70 other Members of this House that on 16 August the Prime Minister agreed to a suggestion that Parliament should be prorogued on 9 September, but on 25 August a No. 10 spokesperson said

“the claim that the Government is considering proroguing Parliament in September in order to stop MPs debating Brexit is entirely false.”

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that the spokesperson misled MPs and the public on 25 August?

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I am sorry to say that the most obvious understanding of the ordinary use of the English language, which normally the hon. and learned Lady is pretty good at, makes it quite clear that the two statements are entirely compatible. The Prorogation is the normal Prorogation to have a new Session; it is not to stop debate on matters related to the European Union.

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rose

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It is, of course, a pleasure to give way to the hon. Gentleman.

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I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. He spoke earlier about candour. The need for candour means that he has to accept that, when it comes to WTO, all countries bar about three in the world are in regional trade associations—the three that are not are South Sudan, Somalia and East Timor, and they will probably soon be joined by the UK if we have a hard Brexit. The fact that all these countries, bar three, are in regional trade associations means that they do not exclusively trade on WTO terms. Therefore, when he talks about taking the UK to a place where we exclusively trade on WTO terms, he is talking about moving us away from free trade with 500 million people, making trade more expensive. That is his policy. The other question is this: did he know about the Prorogation on 16 August?

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On 16 August, I was at Lords watching a game of cricket, unless it was one of the days when it rained. On the WTO issue, our trade with the United States on WTO terms—I know that the hon. Gentleman is expert in these matters—has grown faster since the creation of the single market than our trade with European Union.

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rose

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I understand that my right hon. Friend wishes to intervene.

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I am very grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way. I understand his views and his concerns about the supposed constitutional irregularity of these proceedings, and no doubt in the future all these things can be debated. Will he accept that, as a nation, we stand at present at a moment that will have a profound effect on the welfare of our people, that the sovereign Parliament of this country clearly deserves an opportunity to be able to decide whether it will accept a policy of no-deal exit or not, and that that overwhelmingly matters more than whether the Standing Order No. 24B, which has “where” in it—misdrafted in all probability by the then Leader of the House—has a particular meaning or does not have a particular meaning?

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There is, I am sorry to say, a stunning arrogance to that view. It fails to understand where sovereignty comes from. [Interruption.] I do indeed dare to say this, and I say it to my right hon. Friend.

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Order. I recognise that there are strongly held views on both sides of the House on all aspects of this matter, but the Leader of the House must be heard.

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Sovereignty in this House comes from the British people. The idea that we can overrule 17.4 million people is preposterous, and the idea that our rules do not exist to protect the people from arrogant power grabs is mistaken. Those rules are there for the protection of the people.

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I have given way so many times and to many distinguished Members, and it is now time to come on to this extraordinary and unprecedented motion.

Parliament is attempting to set aside Standing Order No. 14 to give precedence to the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill. This motion goes further and seeks to claim an unknown and unquantified number of subsequent days for consideration of Lords amendments and messages. It is a fundamental principle that Government are able to transact their business in this House—a principle that this House has long accepted in Standing Order No. 14. This motion also sets aside, in a new parliamentary Session, the Standing Orders that apply in relation to the presentation of private Members’ Bills. The motion would allow a designated Member—or a few of the Illuminati who are taking the powers to themselves—to give notice of the presentation of this Bill on the first day of a new Session and then provide time for debate on this Bill on the second day of the new Session, interrupting the Queen’s Speech.

There is an established process for the House debating the Queen’s Speech—a process that this Bill would undermine. Although the Outlawries Bill has its First Reading just before the start of the Queen’s Speech debate, this Bill is only read a First time as a formality and not debated. To interrupt the Queen’s Speech to debate a Back-Bench Bill, such as the one proposed in this motion, would be unprecedented. The Government have an obligation to bring forward their business, and the Queen’s Speech and the debate that follows is one of the great set pieces of the parliamentary calendar, where the Government are rightly scrutinised and held to account, and that is being interrupted.

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rose

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I give way to the very patient hon. Gentleman.

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I want to come back to a point made by the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone). He has said quite a lot, as a Brexiteer, that we would be taking back control of our laws. Can the Leader of the House be crystal clear at the Dispatch Box tonight that if the Bill passes in this House and in the other place, the Government will not stop it getting Royal Assent—if we are taking back control of our laws?

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The law will be followed. We are a country that follows the rule of law and this Government assiduously follow constitutional conventions, unlike some other Members of this House.

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rose

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I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) wishes to intervene.

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The intervention of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) can only be described as breathtaking. In support of the assertion by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House that it was weighted with great arrogance, may I ask him to be good enough to confirm that in fact the European Union Referendum Bill, as enacted, was a sovereign Act of Parliament, which deliberately gave the right to the British people, and not to the British Parliament, to make the decision on the question of remain or leave?

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My hon. Friend is of course right. We report to the British people; they are our bosses.

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I give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Vicky Ford), who has been so patient.

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I am grateful to the Leader of the House. Getting back to the bigger picture, the Prime Minister made it very clear in his speech last night and in his statement today that his preferred outcome is to leave with a deal. Can the Leader of the House confirm that that is also his preferred outcome, and that if a deal is agreed at the next European Council sufficient time will be made in this Chamber to ensure that we legislate for that deal?

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My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and I can say, both personally and as bound by collective responsibility, that I am in favour of a deal.

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We must allow other Members to speak. I see that time’s wingèd  chariot is speeding away, and therefore I must get on to the separation of powers. [Interruption.] Well, if the hon. Gentleman wants me to carry on all night, I will do my best.

Today’s debate goes to the heart of our constitution and the roles of the Executive and of Parliament. These are matters of careful balance. It is for the Government, by virtue of their ability to command the confidence of this House, to exercise Executive power. That includes the order of business and the bringing forward of legislation. It is for Parliament to scrutinise, to amend, to reject or to approve. Indeed, the scrutiny of the Executive is one of the core functions of Parliament. These complementary and distinctive roles are essential to the functioning of the constitution.

Ministers are of course accountable to Parliament for their decisions and actions, and Parliament can make clear its views. It is not, however, for Parliament to undertake the role and functions of the Executive. The constitutional convention is that Executive power is exercised by Her Majesty’s Government, who have a democratic mandate to govern. That mandate is derived from the British people and represented through this House.

Mr Speaker, when we look at this constitution, we see that we are protected by our rules, our orders and our conventions. We will remember from “A Man for All Seasons” that it is those rules, laws and conventions that protect us from the winds of tyranny, and if we take away those protections, as the right hon. Member for West Dorset proposes to do, we lose our protections. It is therefore on the basis of this convention that the Government, not Parliament, are responsible for negotiations with the European Union. Parliament as a whole cannot negotiate for the UK; that is the role of the Government, in exercising Executive power to give effect to the will of the nation.

These roles are fundamental and underpin the country’s uncodified constitution. The Government draw power from Parliament, but the Government may at any time be removed by the tried and tested motion of a confidence debate. The fact is that Parliament has not been willing to go down that route, and the reason is that the Opposition are afraid of that route and run away from it, because they do not dare have the Leader of the Opposition as the Head of Government. They are frightened. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Brent Central (Dawn Butler) says that there is time. Let me say, as Leader of the House, that if the Opposition want a motion of confidence, this Government will always obey the constitutional convention and make time for it. But they are afraid—they are white with fear—because they do not want the right hon. Gentleman in No. 10 Downing Street.

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Does my right hon. Friend agree that if the House succeeds in stripping our Prime Minister of the key negotiating card of a no deal, the likelihood of that outcome will be that much accentuated?

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My hon. Friend is absolutely right; it would make the negotiations that much harder.

Let us now turn to the substance of what we are debating. Ostensibly, the purpose of the Bill is to stop no deal. But the Government want a deal. We are willing to sit down with the Commission and EU member states to talk about what needs to be done and to achieve a deal. That must involve the excision of the anti-democratic backstop. The Government have also been clear that we must respect the referendum result and that the UK will be leaving the EU on 31 October, whatever the circumstances. Unless and until the EU agrees to negotiate, we will be leaving with no deal on 31 October.

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster made a statement earlier today, in which he informed the House of all that is being done to ensure that we are ready for all eventualities. The good boy scouts that we are, we are prepared.

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I will definitely give way to the hon. Member for Wallasey (Ms Eagle).

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I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. Does he not realise that, in proroguing Parliament for five weeks—the longest Prorogation, right in the middle of a political crisis, since 1945—he and his Government have deliberately prevented scrutiny that would be legitimate in this House, hence the situation we find ourselves in now? Will he now confirm at the Dispatch Box that if the Bill passes through this House and the other place, he will speed Royal Assent and that his Government will not act against the law?

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I do not wish to be pedantic, but one of the constitutional niceties is that we are Her Majesty’s Government, not mine, and we are led by my right hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson). The important issue here is that Prorogation is a routine start for a new Session, and we are losing a similar number of days to the number we would lose in a normal Prorogation.

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I will give way to the hon. Member for Bradford West (Naz Shah), but she is trumped, momentarily, by the Chair of the Brexit Committee.

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I am extremely grateful to the Leader of the House for giving way. Now that Mr Speaker has made it clear that there is nothing at all irregular about his acceptance of this motion, and given that the Leader of the House accepts, as I presume he does, that the House is in charge of its own procedures, how can there be anything constitutionally irregular in the House choosing—if it passes the motion and then the Bill tomorrow—to instruct the Government that there is an outcome to the Brexit negotiations that it is not prepared to accept, which is leaving without a deal on 31 October?

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The right hon. Gentleman conflates irregular and improper. The motion is unquestionably irregular, even though it is not improper—the two are different concepts, as I am sure he fully understands. It is of course for the House to regulate its own proceedings, but a fundamental principle of our constitution is that the Government command the confidence of the House. [Interruption.] Ah! From a sedentary position an hon. Gentleman says that the Government do not. Now, that is the lock that would undo this constitutional conundrum, because the House dare not say that it has no confidence in the Government—it is frightened of that—and therefore it tries to take away confidence on specifics while maintaining confidence in the generality. That is not a proper constitutional position to be in.

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It is very difficult to choose to whom to give way, but I did promise the hon. Lady.

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I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. He has referred many times in his speech to accountability. Within that vein of accountability, may I ask him a simple question: on what date did he become aware of the Prime Minister’s intention to prorogue Parliament?

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I have been asked that question, and I understand that there are papers in court. I do not know when I was told that it was happening, although I did have to take a flight out to Aberdeen for a meeting of the Privy Council. Without consulting my diary and my telephone records, I would not wish to say something that was inaccurate.

Let us get back to what is happening here. I was saying that we, being good boy scouts, are well prepared for leaving with or without a deal, and it is absurd for MPs to attempt to bind the Prime Minister’s hands as he seeks to agree a deal that they can support ahead of the European Council.

The European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill would make it harder to deliver the two things that the public want from Brexit: certainty and for it to be delivered. The Bill does not do this. It is nothing but legislative legerdemain and a vehicle for extension after extension.

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My constituents in Sleaford and North Hykeham voted overwhelmingly to leave and are very concerned about this proposed Bill, which, as they see it, would block Brexit. Will my right hon. Friend confirm my understanding that if the Bill were to pass, the options available would be to the EU, and that those options would be: to agree a largely pointless three-month extension, which would almost certainly be repeated; to offer a deal of the EU’s choice, not negotiated by our Government; or no deal? Does my right hon. Friend agree that that is not taking back control for this Parliament or this Government, but ceding it entirely to Brussels?

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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. What is happening is a deliberate attempt to sow the seed for an extension long enough for a second referendum or simply to stop us leaving at all. It is about denying Brexit, and the fact that the Bill mandates updates on negotiations and motions on those updates on a rolling 28-day basis clearly envisages either a lengthy extension or possibly indefinite vassalage. These seeds could grow into legislation to be introduced on 15 January, 12 February and every 28 days thereafter to command the Government to take specific actions. The aim is to create a marionette Government in which there is only nominal confidence, and it defies the convention in what we are doing today—a convention of great importance, that emergency legislation is passed only when there is a consensus.

Governments less benign than this one may in future learn from this process and ram through any legislation they feel like. Without consensus, those on the Opposition Benches should be very careful about emergency legislation, for they may find they are at the wrong end of it in the future. We should be trying to help the Prime Minister in his chance to negotiate, not trying to bind him hand and foot. Not only do we want to be the vassal state of the European Union; we wish to send the Prime Minister, bound hand and foot, to go and negotiate with the European Union.

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Mr Speaker, you will be glad to know that I am drawing gently to a close, and therefore I fear that time for interventions, except from my very old friend, the right hon. Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier), the Chair of the very distinguished Committee that she is the Chair of. [Laughter.]

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Send him a note!

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For once, the right hon. Gentleman has made an error and over-promoted me, but I thank him for his distinctive comments.

There is a serious point here: we are a representative democracy, not a direct democracy. I take that judgment seriously, as I know do colleagues across the House. The Government do not have not have a majority and we are in uncharted constitutional territory, so it is absolutely right and proper that we exercise our judgment in the interests of the country to avoid, at the very least, a no-deal Brexit. For all the right hon. Gentleman’s talk, we must exercise that judgment, and that is what we are doing. It is entirely responsible.

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I am afraid that I disagree with the hon. Lady, and I must confess that I am astonished that she is not a right hon. Member. Something must have gone wrong with the Privy Council, of which I am now Lord President, for that not to be the case. [Interruption.] Oh, the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) feels that he has also not been justly promoted; I am sorry.

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No, you’ve been unjustly promoted!

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Order. I do not think that the Leader of the House was planning to invite the hon. Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier) to join him in Balmoral, so I am not sure that it makes a great deal of difference in the immediate circumstances.

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Thank you, Mr Speaker. I am afraid that the hon. Lady is wrong because there is a routine constitutional procedure to deal with the situation she describes, and that is the vote of confidence. Yes, we are a representative body, but where does our sovereignty come from? Here I am in agreement with the Scots: sovereignty comes from the people to Parliament. We hold it in trust for them and they gave us an instruction. If we follow this route, we are left with but three options: we have to accept the deal with its anti-democratic backstop; we have to keep on extending, because Parliament would never accept that we are ready to leave; or we could simply revoke and tell 17.4 million people that they were wrong.

The approach taken today is the most unconstitutional use of this House since the days of Charles Stewart Parnell, when he tried to bung up Parliament. Usurping the Executive’s right is unconstitutional, the abuse of emergency debates to do so is unconstitutional and the Bill itself is yet more unconstitutional. A. V. Dicey said that all conventions have

“one ultimate object, to secure that Parliament or the Cabinet…shall in the long run give effect to the will…of the nation”.

These conventions are being disregarded today, and so, by extension, is the will of the nation. Parliament sets itself against the people. Sovereignty comes from the people to Parliament. It does not come to Parliament out of a void. If Parliament tries to challenge the people, this stretches the elastic of our constitution near to breaking point. We should recognise that the people are our masters and show ourselves to be their lieges and servants, not place ourselves in the position of their overlords. As we come to vote today, I hope that all Members will contemplate the current constitutional confusion and consider the chaos that this concatenation of circumstances could create.

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It is a pleasure to follow the Leader of the House. I remind him that Lord Cooper in the Court of Session said that parliamentary sovereignty is a purely English concept that has no counterpart in Scottish constitutional history. In Scotland the people are sovereign, and that, of course, will be a matter of importance as the people of Scotland decide what their future will be.

I have to say that I am rather surprised by the right hon. Gentleman, who has always been a student of the rights of the House, because the harsh reality is that the reason we are in this situation—that Parliament is to be prorogued—is that the Prime Minister has instructed three stooges to go to Balmoral to give an instruction to the Queen to shut this place down. For all the pronouncements that this is normal, it most certainly is not normal for Parliament to be prorogued for five weeks, and we know that the simple reason is that the Government are running away from the powers and responsibilities that this House has. It is shameful and disgraceful, and in that regard I am deeply honoured and privileged to endorse the motion in the name of the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin).

The Scottish Government have today launched an ambitious programme for government that is aimed at tackling climate change, building a fairer economy, reducing inequality and improving the lives of citizens across Scotland—a Government getting on with their day job, 12 years into government yet still focused on making life better for those in Scotland. But while the Government in Holyrood are stepping up to meet the challenges facing both Scotland and the world, Westminster is quite literally shutting down. It is very much a tale of two Governments. While the Scottish National party is doing everything here and in Edinburgh to move Scotland forward, the threat to our economy and society from the right-wing Brexiteer cabal occupying Downing Street cannot be mitigated. They must—they will—be stopped.

“A sham” is what reports say one of the Prime Minister’s advisers has called his EU negotiation strategy. “Running down the clock” is what the Telegraph is reporting those close to the Prime Minister as saying his strategy is. A “complete fantasy” is how reports say the Attorney General advised the Prime Minister over his approach to the backstop. The tall tales of this Prime Minister are being exposed by the media by the minute. Sources are exposing the smoke and mirrors behind those playing games in No. 10. Does the Prime Minister think this is a game? If so, it is a very, very dangerous game. Make no mistake, the Prime Minister is acting like a dictator—shutting down Parliament, ripping up democracy and silencing the people.

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The right hon. Gentleman is making some very strong points. Does he agree that if the Government were serious about negotiating and there were serious negotiations going on, the negotiation team would not have been cut to a quarter of the size that it was under the previous Prime Minister, and there would not be meetings happening where the chief negotiator is saying that the rationale for talking to the Brexit team in the EU is “domestic political” handling?

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The hon. Gentleman is absolutely correct. It is a complete sham to say that negotiations are taking place. This is simply a Government who are driving us towards no deal, and Parliament, thankfully, is standing up for its rights.

The Prime Minister seems to have forgotten that we in this place have been elected to represent the will of our constituents, and we on the SNP Benches have been elected to serve the people of Scotland—the people of Scotland who have overwhelmingly voted to remain in the European Union. Yet this Prime Minister, by proroguing Parliament, has decided to ignore the will of the Scottish people, sidelined their interests and silenced their voices. I say to Scottish Conservative Members: do not stab Scotland in the back tonight; stand together with us. For once—for once—stand up for Scotland’s interests. The Prime Minister clearly thinks he can do whatever he wants with Scotland and get away with it. The SNP is here today to tell him that we are not having it.

Since coming to office, the Prime Minister has not given Parliament the opportunity to debate the constitutional crisis facing these islands. Despite Parliament previously ruling out leaving on a no-deal basis, the Prime Minister is pedalling us towards the cliff edge, risking a no-deal Brexit that risks jobs and food and medicine supplies. The population of the United Kingdom is being threatened by this Government.

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The first observation I would make about this Government is that it is amazing how much they are in thrall to the date of 31 October given to them by Donald Tusk—the EU date that has now become sacrosanct for Brexiteers. The other thing that strikes me about this Government is that they are looking to have a jingoistic pre-hard-Brexit election, but they fear a post-Brexit election when there are empty shelves and a lack of medicines, because a lack of food on the shelves and a lack of medicines do not election victories make. They will be decimated after they do the damage, so they want to cut and run and see if they can get it over the line before they do the damage.

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My hon. Friend is correct.

The responsibility of this House is to make sure that we do not have the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit—to protect us from that risk. Yes, we want an election, but we want an election safe in the knowledge that we have protected our citizens from a no-deal Brexit. That is the right thing to do. Let us remind ourselves that the Prime Minister has not been elected by the people; he has been put in power by Conservative party members. He should put himself in front of the people. But let us, in the first case, work together—work collectively—to remove the cliff edge of 31 October.

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Does my right hon. Friend recall very clearly, as I do, that on 6 April 2016 we were told by the current Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, “The day after we vote to leave the EU, we will hold all the cards”? Does that not simply show that this Government are being run by a hopeless, naive group of fantasists?

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I have to say that it grieves me to see what is taking place, because, in effect, what has happened with the election of the Prime Minister is that the Vote Leave campaign now runs the Government. The harsh reality is that Conservative Back Benchers who are prepared to put our national interests before party interests are going to be forced out of their party. The Tory party has been taken over by a cult, and that does nothing—absolutely nothing—for our democracy.

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The right hon. Gentleman is completely right that Scotland would be harmed by no deal, just as my constituents in Nottingham would be harmed by no deal. He is absolutely right to say that this Bill is required as an insurance policy against no deal. Does he also agree that anything that dissolves Parliament before 31 October, whether through Prorogation or a jingoistic election—as the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Angus Brendan MacNeil) said—would put our constituents at risk, because there simply is not the time to put all the legislation and preparations in place for that insurance policy before 31 October?

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The hon. Gentleman is right to signify that we are facing a constitutional crisis.

I applaud Members of Parliament right across this House who have worked together collectively over the course of the past few weeks because we understand the risk to our economy and to our communities. Thank goodness that Members of Parliament have shown that desire to work across the House. We in the SNP have made it clear that we will work with everyone else to make sure that we remove the cliff edge. We have done that consistently ever since 2016. We want an election, but when we can get to the safe landing place where we have no deal taken off the table for 31 October.

But I say—in no way do I mean it as a threat to anyone in this House—that the people of Scotland deserve the right to be able to determine their own future. We cannot allow ourselves to be taken out of the European Union against our will. We have a mandate from the 2016 Scottish elections to deliver a referendum for the people of Scotland. It is absolutely right that the people of my country who want to remain as a European nation should have that choice. The Prime Minister and his Brexiteer cohorts are not going to drive Scotland out of the European Union against their will.

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Does the right hon. Gentleman, like me, feel somewhat disrespected by the Leader of the House, who disrespected our Speaker and his decisions and everybody who has supported this motion? I am proud to have my name on it and proud to stand with people who are willing to put country before party, country before self. I was not sent here by my constituents to make them poorer or to put their jobs and their healthcare at risk. That is our overriding priority—we are here to stop a no-deal Brexit. This is not about whether we are remainers or Brexiteers. Many people who voted for Brexit would continue to do so, but not for a no-deal Brexit. There is no majority in the country or in this House for a no-deal Brexit, which is a disaster for the people of this country—of all four nations.

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The right hon. Lady makes a very passionate case.

We must reflect on what is in the Yellowhammer document. It is not made up. It is not by anybody on this side of the House. It is the Government recognising the risks to the people of the United Kingdom. We have a Government who are telling us that there is a potential risk to food supplies and to medical supplies, particularly for those who need epilepsy drugs. Good grief—contained within the document is talk about a limited risk to water supplies for hundreds of thousands of people. Just think about this: think about a Government who are telling the people of the United Kingdom, “We cannot guarantee that you’re going to have a water supply.” What on earth are we doing?

The nub of this is that it is about ideology. However people voted in the Brexit referendum, they certainly did not vote for this. The Treasury published a document last year showing that a no-deal Brexit could reduce GDP over a 15-year period by something close to 10%. Just dwell on this: we are talking about an impact on the economy that is four times greater than the economic crisis of 2008—the economic crisis that ushered in a decade of austerity. It is the height of irresponsibility for any politician to think that we should be supporting no deal, putting constituents on the dole. Unemployment is never a price worth paying, but this Government are prepared to put the people of the United Kingdom on the dole. We will not sit back and allow that to happen.

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The right hon. Gentleman is making a very passionate case as to why no deal will be such a disaster. Does he agree that we must once and for all dispense with the notion that it is some kind of bargaining chip in these negotiations? Shooting yourself in the foot because you do not get what you want is not a negotiating position.

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I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman; he is absolutely correct. It is delusional, and the Government should start telling the truth to people.

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Does my right hon. Friend agree that what we hear from Europe is that there is not actually any proposal on the table from the Government, so there has been no serious negotiation to get a deal, and it is all a fairy tale and a sham?

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I do not know what the Prime Minister believes, but he was asked several times today by Members in this House to tell us what proposition the Government are making. There is none. It is a sham. This Government are heading us towards the cliff edge of no deal. That is the reality.

The deepening of the democratic deficit under the Prime Minister is despicable. This decision is an outrageous assault on basic democratic principles, and yet the Prime Minister and his cronies will argue that this is normal. A suspension, he argues, is quite right and proper —what ridiculousness. I know that the Prime Minister has never been one to deal in facts, but let me make it clear for Members. In the last 40 years, Parliament has never been prorogued for longer than three weeks. In most cases, it has been prorogued for only a week or less. To try to argue that five weeks is normal is, if we are being polite, disingenuous.

The reason we are here today—the reason why we, for want of a better phrase, are taking back control of the Order Paper on a cross-party basis—is to stop the Prime Minister running down the clock and obstructing the democratic right of MPs to debate, vote and represent the will of the people who sent us to this place. This shameful act from the Prime Minister is because he knows there is no majority here for a no-deal Brexit, because he knows there is no support from the public for a no-deal Brexit and because he knows what we all know: that a no-deal Brexit is catastrophic for the lives of citizens across these islands.

Just in office, the Prime Minister is toying with our democratic processes. Ruth Fox, director of the Hansard Society, said that it was an “affront to parliamentary democracy”. Why? Because the Prime Minister wants things his own way, and at any cost. The real reason he cannot bear for Parliament to sit and debate is that he knows he does not have the majority to support his disastrous plans to destroy our economy with a no-deal Brexit. What an embarrassment to parliamentary democracy. Well, the Prime Minister cannot stop MPs doing their jobs. We will be heard, and democracy must be respected.

Just last week, I was proud that my party signed a declaration alongside MPs from across the parties in Church House, warning the Government:

“Any attempt to prevent parliament sitting, to force through a no-deal Brexit, will be met by strong and widespread democratic resistance.”

Has the Prime Minister still not listened? Even today, a cross-party group of politicians are in Edinburgh for a full hearing in the Court of Session, attempting to prevent the Prime Minister from proroguing Parliament. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Edinburgh South West (Joanna Cherry) has already called on the Prime Minister to swear on oath his reasons for the Prorogation of Parliament. Will the Prime Minister do so? I think we know the answer to that. We also have a group of experts in constitutional law, human rights and justice arguing in The Times that the recent decision to prorogue Parliament sets a dangerous precedent and, furthermore, is incompatible with Executive accountability to Parliament as prescribed by the constitution.

Has the Prime Minister no shame? This is a blind power grab, showing total arrogance and contempt for the electorate. Instead of giving the people a new Prime Minister who listens to their wishes, he has robbed the people of all power. What does shutting down Parliament on a whim mean for this Prime Minister or a future Prime Minister? For us from Scotland, what protection do we have if any UK Prime Minister sought to shut down the Scottish Parliament? We need to protect our Parliament from this Prime Minister.

It is clear that this House is not supportive of the Prime Minister’s actions. This emergency debate is crucial, as MPs today need to carve a way forward to allow emergency legislation against no deal to be passed. The cross-party Bill seeks to ensure that the UK will not leave the EU without a deal unless Parliament consents to such an outcome. It will also require the Prime Minister to then extend article 50. That is a crucial step to prevent a catastrophic no deal, to protect our economy and our communities. This is how we can come together to avoid a no-deal Brexit, to protect the interests of citizens across these islands and, fundamentally, to protect not simply the rights of Parliament or parliamentarians but the rights of the people.

The denial of Parliament having its say denies people in Scotland and across the UK their say against a no-deal Brexit. We in the SNP cannot countenance that. I urge Members to unite to stop a no-deal Brexit, to stop this Prime Minister and this dictatorship, and to restore democracy. Tonight, it is our turn to take back control. Tonight, the Prime Minister is going to be stopped in his tracks. The Prime Minister has tried to rob the people of their power. Now it is our time to rob him of his.

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Order. After we have heard from the Father of the House, whom I intend shall speak next, it will be necessary for there to be a time limit on Back-Bench speeches, imposed by me in the name of trying to accommodate the maximum number of colleagues in this important debate. I call Mr Kenneth Clarke.

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Mr Speaker, you are very generous to me. I will try to be extremely brief. The right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford) has just enabled me to be briefer, because he made the key point in the last few moments of his speech when he talked about what really lies behind this Bill, from the point of view of Parliament and parliamentary democracy.

We all know that we are in the middle of an historic crisis, and we all know that our duty is to take the decision that will be best for future generations and will do least damage to our political standing in the world and to our economy. This horrendous debate which is tearing the country apart is doing great harm to our political institutions, and particularly Parliament. A large number of the population on either side of the European debate are beginning to hold Parliament almost in contempt. Fanatic leavers are convinced that it is wicked MPs who are undermining the people’s will and that we are solely responsible for the appalling deadlock we are in.

I am very glad that, with your help, Mr Speaker, my right hon. Friends and others have found this way of enabling Parliament to assert itself, give its view and face the fundamental challenge from a constitutional point of view which will determine the political relationship between Governments of all colours and Parliaments for quite a long time to come.

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Will my right hon. and learned Friend give way?

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With great respect, I would love to debate with my right hon. Friend, and I often have, but my speech will get longer and longer once I give way. As the Speaker has not put me under the time limit, I will try to avoid giving way, to be fair to others.

The reason for this motion and the underlying reason for the opposition to it is simply that the Government are insisting on pursuing a policy which they know a majority in Parliament is opposed to. There is no precedent for it that I can think of—certainly not in modern times. I have been around for long enough, but 10 years ago, if a Government had attempted to implement a policy which they knew the majority of Parliament were against, it would have created outrage.

Parliament has twice voted against leaving with no deal. This Prime Minister has plainly determined that he has put himself in a position where he has got to have no deal. We have seen the most extraordinary attempts to avoid this House having opportunities to vote on that, to debate it and to play a role in it. If Parliament allows itself to be sidelined, the precedent that we will create for future generations and for the behaviour of future Governments of all complexions vis-à-vis Parliament will be quite horrendous.

We have heard arguments about the importance of limiting these emergency debates. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House is very good at keeping a straight face when he is coming out with arguments that are almost incredible. The benefits of trading solely within the WTO I will leave on one side. I am sure the North Koreans thrive under that in every conceivable way. [Laughter] I think it is only the North Koreans, the Algerians and perhaps the Serbians who do that. When the Leader of the House says how important it is that this House defends its traditions by making sure that in no circumstances can it ever debate business of its own choice, even in an emergency—and I know that he is a profound parliamentarian and deeply committed to the wellbeing of this place—his ability to keep a straight face is quite remarkable. However, I am being deflected from the serious point I was making.

Prorogation was the final, almost charmingly naive, attempt to make sure that there was not even an opportunity by mistake for something on the Order Paper to enable anybody here to express their opinion. Apparently, it is suddenly frightfully important that the Government’s whole new policy package—which seems to be emerging at an extraordinary rate, in figures anyway—is put before Parliament before the end of October, when we have not really bothered with policy of that kind for a very long time. It is plainly impossible to put it off until the beginning of November!

Most importantly, apparently the reason for the extremely long break is that it is extremely important that we do not distract the public from paying proper attention to the party conferences! [Laughter.] We have to be respectful to the Trades Union Congress; we cannot distract the television sets of the nation from the Liberal assembly; apparently every Conservative MP is dying to go to the Conservative conference. [Laughter.] We know there are people who will have engagements there, but I am sure the pairing system can cope with that. The idea that at the moment of such historic crisis, such momentous decisions, the House can be faced with arguments of that kind, I find quite preposterous and very saddening.

Given that we are being treated in this way, it is quite obvious that the House must seize its own agenda—that is all that this evening’s vote is about—and make the most of the opportunity in the next few days. Then the House can make key decisions on what it will legally require the Government to pursue in the national interest: most importantly being strongly against just leaving with no deal. I would be amazed if a majority does not emerge, yet again. It is not that anybody really wants that—I think about 20 Members of the House of Commons really think it is a good idea to leave with no deal. It is the right of my party, who have given up and decided to get it over with: “Leave with no deal; it’s all the fault of the Germans, the French and particularly the Commissioners—all the fault of Parliament. Have a quick election, wave a Union Jack and then we will sort out the bumps that will come when we have left.” The House must stop that, and use the opportunity.

Tomorrow we will debate the merits of the arguments. We will go on and on. I am dying to intervene in more of the arguments—I have already spoken in this House more than most on Europe, and we all know where we stand on the leave/remain arguments—but there is one point of real substance that I would like to address tonight, on which I am afraid for the first time ever the Leader of the House was slightly annoying me. He was using what is currently the cliché, extreme right-winger argument, that anybody who wants to stop a no-deal Brexit is actually reversing the referendum. I think we exactly reflect the public; Parliament, in its paralysed confusion, entirely reflects the division of the public, where there is no clear majority for anything, so far, except that we are against leaving with no deal. We cannot get a majority for anything else; everything else has so far been blocked by hard-line right-wing people who do not want any deal with foreigners, and people’s vote people, who will not vote for anything that involves leaving the European Union because they want another referendum. I am afraid they have, so far, outnumbered the middle. I think more of them should join the middle, because I believe, with great reluctance, that the obvious compromise, to bring together both public opinion and this House, is a soft Brexit where we keep the present economic ties.

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House says that I am just defying 17 million people. Well, I have not defied 17 million people. I have already compromised. I was not in favour of the referendum. I feel very self-justified, looking back on it. I did not vote for it; I made it clear that I was not going to change my lifelong opinions because of one day’s vote on a simple question on the terribly complicated subject of our national destiny. I even voted against invoking article 50; I was guilty of that. Since then, I have accepted that the only way to proceed is a soft Brexit: to leave the political union and stay in those superbly free trade arrangements, which British Conservative Governments took a leading role in creating. I have voted for Brexit three times. If the Bill gets passed, and if we get on to the substance of the thing, I will vote for Brexit again. I have had the privilege of at least once voting alongside the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House in favour of Brexit, on terms which they now treat with derision.

I do not want to listen to conspiracy theories about the Irish backstop. Sadly, I do not think any of the English public take any interest in Irish political affairs; nine out of 10 have no idea what the Irish backstop is. It is an entirely closed little debate—but a very important one, I concede. I am strongly in favour of the Irish backstop unless we could replace it with something that is, equally, absolutely guaranteed to preserve the Good Friday agreement. At the root, we have to deliver to the people, and I think we could get a broad mass of the public together on something that keeps our economic ties together and attempts—as the EU keeps doing under British leadership—to extend free trade through more and more EU trade agreements, which we took the leading part in pressing for, and which we are now about to walk out of to go back to WTO terms all over again, with South Korea and Mercosur and so on. That must be stopped.

I would like to see a Bill in which we put more positive steers from this House. We all know what we are against—no deal—but we cannot agree on what we are for. I do not think that making it a legal obligation to seek a customs union or to have some regulatory alignment would make the Prime Minister’s position more difficult in Europe; they would just wonder why on earth no British leader had asked for that before. I will leave that until the proceedings on the Bill.

If this Parliament does not pass this motion, it will be looked back upon with total derision. What sort of a Parliament was it, in the middle of this crisis, that said to the Government—this new Government, this populist Government, storming away as it is—“Oh yes, we quite agree with you: we should not be troubled with this. The Executive, as we have just been told, have absolute powers. We are only a debating society, only commenting when we are allowed. Feel free to deliver what you wish by 31 October”? Then we go back to our constituents and say, “It is very important that you have us to represent you in Parliament, to look after your interests, but as it happens we have given unbridled powers to Boris for the next few months on the European question.”

You may gather, Mr Speaker, that I am going to vote for this motion, with more passion than I usually go through the Lobby. It is an extremely important evening.

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Order. I am afraid a five-minute limit on Back-Bench speeches will now apply.

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I rise to support the motion not only on behalf of the 1.7 million people who have signed a petition on our website against a Prorogation of Parliament until we have made decisions on Europe, but as someone who is profoundly disturbed by the contempt for parliamentary democracy that the Prime Minister has shown in seeking a five-week Prorogation of Parliament. It is profoundly dangerous to our democracy because, as we all know, democracy never disappears with a bang: it disappears by small, incremental steps, each one justified by saying, “Things need to be sorted out, things need to be done, and people are blocking the way.” I say that as someone who believes that we should implement the decision of the referendum, but in a representative democracy it is for Parliament to decide how that decision should be implemented.

We are struggling to reconcile a plebiscite with a representative democracy. That struggle has not been made any easier by the misleading statements made during the referendum—that we would get the easiest trade deal ever, and so on. Brexit cannot be accomplished, as the Prime Minister seeks to tell us, by a few slogans from a self-help book and a rousing chorus of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”. It is complicated, and Parliament has to deal with those complications.

I have no doubt that the Prime Minister sees himself as a democrat. I am told that he keeps a bust of Pericles in Downing Street. I do not know whether he chose Pericles because his foreign policy alienated most of the other Greek states or because he prorogued the Athenian assembly, but although the Prime Minister sees himself as a democrat he speaks like a demagogue. He has called parliamentarians “collaborators” with Europe in seeking to block no deal: he uses the language of a war. There are far too many people here trying to relive a war that they were not only too young to take part in but too young even to remember. That demeans the sacrifices of those who fought in that war.

Our job is to take the difficult decisions, and one of the things that we must do is to block a no-deal Brexit, which would be disastrous for this country and for most of our constituents. It would damage not just this generation but generations to come. Where are all the members of the Cabinet who told us that Prorogation would be an affront to parliamentary democracy, mad or a ridiculous suggestion? They are silent as the grave. If Cabinet Government no longer exists, and it seems not to, it is for Parliament to ensure that the Government are properly scrutinised.

I know that it will be difficult for many on the Government Benches tonight. They have been threatened with the loss of the Whip and of their jobs. Many will have to break the bonds of loyalty to their own party, which we all have, but I beg them tonight to act not in their own interests or those of their party, but in those of the country. They should remember what Clem Attlee once said:

“If you begin to consider yourself solely responsible to a political party, you’re half-way to a dictatorship.”

The country expects us tonight to act in the national interest, and it is vital that we do so.

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I have heard an enormous amount over the last few weeks about the way in which the Government are undermining democracy and our sovereignty. We have just heard my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) rubbishing a lot of the arguments that the Government have put forward over the last few weeks.

I will simply say this: there are those in this House, however much they like to dress it up—I think I said this on Second Reading of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018—who have never accepted the idea that we should leave the European Union, with or without a deal. They just do not want to leave. I understand that, and I actually pay tribute to some of those who have been entirely consistent about these arguments, in particular my right hon. and learned Friend. He knows that I genuinely feel that.

Having said that, I am afraid that I simply cannot accept, under any circumstances, the burden of the argument made by, for example, my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin). This House, as I said in an intervention on the Leader of the House, made a decision in the European Union Referendum Act 2015—a sovereign Act of Parliament—that deliberately gave the British people the right to make the decision, not this House. Under the Lisbon treaty, which was enacted in 2008, we also agreed the article 50 process in our domestic law, which provided that, once it had commenced, if there was no decision within two years, we would leave on exit day. That was expressed, ultimately, in the withdrawal Act, section 1 of which said that the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 would take place on exit day.

It is impossible, in my judgment, to argue that this debate, all the ripping up of conventions and all the things my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House of Commons said, which I entirely agree with, about this improper procedure for the purposes of achieving an objective, can just be washed away on the grounds that, somehow or other, there is an argument about our not having any possibility of leaving without a deal. I simply say this, Mr Speaker, if I may: this is certainly, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe said, a matter of unbelievably important historical significance.

We came into the European Union in 1972 on the basis of a White Paper. I got out that White Paper only today and it clearly states that we will never give up the veto. Furthermore, not only would we never give up the veto—that was the basis on which we entered into the European Communities Act 1972, which is still the governing enactment—but to do so would endanger the very fabric of the Community. That is why so many people across the whole of Europe are voting with their feet against this system. Look at what is going on in Italy, in Greece and in many other countries. So why would anyone want to remain in this European Union? It is autocratic. It is dominated by one country in particular and by the French as well. The bottom line is that it is not a system that allows us to govern ourselves.

I simply say this, Mr Speaker. It is clear that the government that takes place under the Council of Ministers is a system that enables us to be governed by 27 other member states. The withdrawal agreement, which was never signed, would allow us to be kept in that system of vassalage, governed by another 27 member states. It is an unacceptable system. Yet if we were to leave with no deal—albeit, I prefer to have a deal—we would be able to trade globally on our own terms. We would no longer be constrained by the deficit that we run with the European Union. We would be able to govern ourselves and we would also ensure that we retain Northern Ireland as part of our constitutional status.

These are matters that transcend the arguments being pushed around in the House today. These are simple questions of principle. These are the questions that we need to address. We must be allowed, as we did for centuries before we entered the European Community, to govern ourselves. The competences have been so grossly extended that we do not govern ourselves. If we stay in this European Union, we will never be able to do so. I am against this motion. I hope that the House will vote against it.

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I rise to support the motion in the name of my friend, the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin).

On the morning of 7 February 2017, I woke up in an isolation room at King’s College Hospital, where I was receiving chemotherapy. My blood counts were rock bottom and the chances of an infection high. Weak as a kitten, I got dressed. My friend and parliamentary neighbour the Brexit Secretary, who was then a Government Whip, met me at the entrance to the ward with a hospital porter and a wheelchair. He took me out to the Chief Whip’s car and we were driven to Parliament so that I could vote for the article 50 Bill.

Since that moment, I have done everything in my power to deliver Brexit with a deal that protects jobs and livelihoods, and preserves our national unity and our international standing. I voted for the former Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement on three separate occasions, while the current Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and Leader of the House were all breaking the Conservative Whip and voting with the Leader of the Opposition. I worked with colleagues across the House to promote an alternative Brexit deal, common market 2.0, and secured the support of Labour, the SNP and Plaid Cymru for a plan that would have taken us out of the European Union’s political arrangements, but kept us in the single market. I am ready to vote for a revised withdrawal agreement if the Prime Minister can secure changes through a negotiation with the EU. Like many hon. Members from the Labour Benches and elsewhere in this House, I still believe that we need to deliver what a majority of my constituents and of the British people voted for in the referendum of 2016.

What I will not do is allow a no-deal Brexit. It would devastate sheep farmers in my constituency. It would be a hammer blow for automotive businesses in my constituency and across the country. It would put our Union with Scotland and Northern Ireland in jeopardy, and it would be the single most protectionist step taken by any democratic country since the great depression, raising tariffs and trade barriers between us and our largest market.

Taking this stand cost me the support of my local party and in April led me to leave the Conservative party, but I have no regrets. I can look people in the eye, knowing that I have done what I believe to be right and put the interests of the country before my own comfort or career. How many members of the Cabinet can say the same?

At the moment, I am the only independent progressive Conservative in Parliament. To those brave souls on the Conservative Benches who face expulsion from the party for voting for the motion today, I say this: your country needs you. Do what you know to be right. Join me on these Benches and together let us build a new force in British politics, and a true home in Parliament for those who believe in one nation.

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I commend you for ensuring that new Back Benchers are able to take part in the debate at such an early stage, Mr Speaker.

I echo the objections raised by the Leader of the House on constitutional grounds to this motion. I believe that denying the Executive the right to uniquely institute legislation is fraught with danger. Many of the debates and some of the changes that we have seen in Parliament in recent times show the fragility of a system that is based on convention. Whether we want them to or not, they are propelling us down the route towards a written constitution, which is something that none of us should want to do without taking due care and attention.

However, my main objection is political. The hon. Member for Warrington North (Helen Jones), who is no longer in her place, raised the tension that we have effectively between a public who voted to leave the European Union and a Parliament which—let us face it—if it had its way freely, would want to remain in the EU. I do not doubt for a moment the legal legitimacy of a sovereign Parliament to make laws as it sees fit. What I doubt is the moral legitimacy of a Parliament that called a referendum, promised to honour the result of it and then, three years later, still has not done so.

My right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) said that we have all made different judgments. Some have voted for a deal, unenthusiastically —I number myself among those who had strong reservations but felt that it was the best way to move forward. Some have voted against the deal because they want no deal to be the outcome. Some have voted against it because they want there to be no Brexit at all, and I want to address one or two questions to that latter group, because this is about the political reputation of Parliament.

Those who have had a premeditated campaign to try to thwart the Brexit result, hiding behind the arguments that it is just the deal that they are opposed to, do themselves, Parliament and politics no credit at all. That position is worsened if they stood at the general election on a manifesto that explicitly said that they would honour the result of the referendum, but they had absolutely no intention of doing so. That will result in the contempt of voters. I look forward to the moment when those Members who have taken that path meet their voters at the next general election, whenever that comes.

I am concerned about where this places us in EU negotiations. To be successful in a negotiation, both sides have to regard it as providing mutual self-interest. This does not do that. This process will cast us in the role of supplicants, not taking control back to this House, but giving it to the EU negotiators. That is not in our national interest. We in this political bubble often argue about process and the minutiae and fail to see the big picture, which is what our voters are looking at. We did not ask for an opinion from voters; we asked for an instruction. We said we would honour it, and we are honour bound to do so. I urge colleagues not to cast their vote tonight with the coalition of chaos—for that will be the result: delay will follow delay. It is time, one way or another, to deliver Brexit.

I make one further point. One of our senior French colleagues said to me, “Liam, you need to leave the EU following your referendum”. That was a senior pro-European politician. He said, “The problems of political fragmentation in France began when we did not honour the result of the referendum on the European constitution. It was the beginning of the end of the major parties and the beginning of the rise of the political fringe”. I fear that, if we go down the path suggested tonight, we will open up a chasm of distrust between Parliament and the British people, and that will play only into the hands of the political fringes, which is something we will all come to regret.

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It is a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for North Somerset (Dr Fox), but at a time when our country should be coming together to find a way through this terrible crisis—the biggest since the second world war—it is no longer acceptable to continue to seek to divide. We have to bring people back together, and we will not do that by imputing to people views and motives that are simply not true.

I do not think that my dear friend, the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke), and I disagree on anything, except Brexit. As he has rightly pointed out, and as my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham and Stamford (Nick Boles) also pointed out—I do not mean this in a derogatory sense—they are of course Brexiteers. On three occasions, as they perfectly properly say, they have voted for us to leave the EU. The reason I did not join them in the Lobby—I take grave exception to this suggestion—is not that I wanted to stop Brexit. That will upset many millions of people in this country, some of whom have come on people’s vote marches and rallies because they want us to stop Brexit, but I have always taken the view that it is not my role, having voted for the referendum, for triggering article 50 and for the withdrawal agreement, to stop Brexit. I would have voted for the former Prime Minister’s deal had we agreed to send it back to the British people, who I believe are entitled to have the final say, now that we know what Brexit looks like.

I have to chide the right hon. Member for North Somerset. The reason that so many people of my view are so fed up is that right hon. and hon. Members such as him said that this would be the easiest deal this country had ever done—in fact the easiest in the history of all deals. That is what we were told. In fact the withdrawal agreement was anything but a deal. It was a blind Brexit. That is why so many of us did not vote for it—we did not get the deal we were promised. The second reason we did not vote for it—certainly in my case, but I suspect in the case of most who chose not to vote for the former Prime Minister’s deal—is that on the Government’s own assessments it would have made my constituents poorer. It would have reduced the economic prospects of my constituents, including, most importantly, young people, who will bear the brunt of Brexit. I did not come to this place positively to vote in the full knowledge that it would make my constituents’ jobs less valuable—that it would make them risky. I make no bones about this: I am quite happy and willing to lose my job, but I am damned if I am going to see the jobs of my constituents, and the life chances of their children and grandchildren, reduced.

The final thing that I would say is this. I do not want to repeat all the excellent words about why no deal is so bad for our country: bad for jobs, bad for peace and trade in Northern Ireland, bad for our economy. I just want to pay tribute to dear friends with whom I sat on those Benches as a member of the Conservative party.

Today marks a very bleak and, I believe, momentous day for the Conservative party. What you are seeing, Mr Speaker, is a group of fine parliamentarians, excellent Members of Parliament, who have been bullied and blackmailed, in contrast to some members of the Cabinet with long histories of defying three-line whips. Notwithstanding that, this bunch of honourable people, most of whom—most of the Conservatives who signed this motion; I have checked the list—have voted three times for Brexit, have found themselves today in the most disgraceful of situations. They have been bullied and blackmailed, and have put their political careers to an end to do the right thing by our country.

As I think was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham and Stamford, this is about our country, but it is also about our self-respect. It is about whether we can look ourselves in the mirror in the morning and not be ashamed of what looks back at us. That moment when our children, and grandchildren, ask us, “How on earth did you stand by and let this disaster of a no deal happen?”, we, at least, will say that we did the right thing: we put our country, and not our careers, first.

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It is a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry). I also listened carefully to what my right hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset (Dr Fox) had to say. He made an important point, which has come up again, about the will of the people.

It is absolutely right that most of us in the House voted to trigger article 50. We did so out of respect for the result of the referendum, even if we did not like it. Three and a half years down the track, however, it is perfectly obvious to many of us that this country is going towards a very bad outcome. The longer the period that passes since the referendum, the more unclear it is, in truth, what the will of the people is. We have no idea. While I have always been willing to see a deal go through, I want it to go back to the public, because I am left with a compelling sense that we are actually taking people to a destination that they do not want at all.

Unfortunately, a section of my party has become hijacked by a narrow sector of those who voted to leave, and who are simply using the will of the people as an instrument of potential tyranny against any of those who disagree with them. That is clear to me from the stream of emails that I routinely receive. I am afraid that it has now been fuelled by the words of the Prime Minister, and, indeed—I regret to have to say this, but I will—by the words of the Leader of the House today.

It was fascinating to listen to the Leader of the House. I had always imagined that he had marketed himself in politics as an individual who formed part of the grandest tradition of old-fashioned Conservatism, so I was rather surprised when I heard him say that one of his objections to why the House should do its duty was that it would interfere with the great set pieces that followed a state opening of Parliament. Of course, as a Conservative, I love the great set pieces of our constitution, but I do not think that, at a time of national emergency, my constituents in Beaconsfield would have much regard for me if I said that those great set pieces must come before my doing my duty.

I must also say to the Leader of the House, with regret—it was the first time that I had heard him speak at the Dispatch Box—that I regretted his rather cheap sarcasm at the expense of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin). Let me gently point out that he has more months of experience of high office than my right hon. Friend has days in his job. The truth is that the Government have decided to pursue a ruthless policy of trying to shut down all debate—debate of the most legitimate kind about the future of our country and its wellbeing—and in doing so the unconstitutional acts come wholly from the Government. I disagree totally with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House when he says that in some way this House is acting unconstitutionally in what it does: our constitution is adaptable, and I am afraid it is having to adapt to the reality that the Government do not have a majority and have not had one for some time. And that is just one of those things that happens, and it is doing it, actually, in a fairly reasonable fashion, although it would be better if we listened politely to each other and stopped trying to beat each other over their head, as I detect is the practice the Government are now adopting.

Finally, I say this. Obviously I believe that this motion is entirely desirable and entirely in keeping with the House’s proper traditions, and is something that should be passed, and the Bill that follows it, so that the evils of a no-deal Brexit are avoided, because I believe passionately that evil will follow. But I was struck that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House suddenly referred to “A Man for All Seasons”, I think because Sir Thomas More is one of his heroes. He will recollect that Sir Thomas said, when told that opposition to the King would mean death, “Well, these are but devices to frighten children.” So I am afraid that if he thinks the device of withdrawing the Whip this evening is going to change my mind or that of my hon. and right hon. Friends, he has got another thing coming, because it will be treated with the contempt it deserves.

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Order. The time limit is now reduced to four minutes.

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I and my party have been consistent over the last four years in voting against this country leaving the European Union. We do that for many reasons, but most of all because that is what the people who elected us to speak for them in this place want: Scotland did not vote for this and Scotland does not want this. But we have never in these debates suggested that the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum should be ignored, set aside or overturned by this Parliament. What we have said is that it is the legitimate and proper role of an elected Parliament to consider the consequences of this course of action, and if in our judgment we believe those consequences to be sufficiently dire, we should allow the opportunity the people of the country to reconsider the decision they took in 2016, in full knowledge of the facts we now have available.

What is at risk now is the right of this Parliament to exercise that degree of judgment. It is a shame in many ways that we have to move this motion tonight and we have to pass emergency legislation tomorrow. It ought to be the other way around: a Government, particularly a minority Government, ought to be coming to this Chamber trying to find consensus, trying to explain themselves and trying to get us behind them, but that is not happening. The reason why so many people find it necessary to do what we are going to do tonight is simply that we have lost faith in this Government. Not only have the Government today lost their majority, but they have also lost the trust of this House. We do not believe the Prime Minister when he says he is trying to get a deal—we see no evidence of that whatsoever—and we do not believe the Prime Minister when he says he respects parliamentary democracy, because he is trying to shut down the ability of this House to debate his actions and their consequences.

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The hon. Gentleman is talking about compromise; we had an opportunity to compromise back in spring in a vote on the customs union, and we lost by only three votes. Where were the hon. Gentleman and his SNP colleagues then? Given the SNP policy on the single market and customs union, we could have had a compromise and avoided this; this is not about time, it is about compromise—show us you are willing to do it.

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The hon. Gentleman is wrong, because the seeds of the problem were sown long before that. They were sown when a right-wing Conservative Government decided to seize on the result of the referendum and use that narrow majority and interpret it for their own ends to restructure the country and its international relationships and its economy. Even now, we see a situation in which the Government are committed to pursuing the hardest of Brexits, crashing out without a deal if they deem it necessary, and even believing that that is the preferred course of action. They know that there is no majority for that course of action not only in this House but in the country.

That brings me to the topic of the election, which is an associated matter. There have been suggestions that if we pass this legislation, the Prime Minister will immediately throw his toys out of the pram, go to the country and demand a general election. We have already had an echo from the Leader of the House of the gross populism that may well come to be reflected in that campaign—something that does his character no great service, to be honest. But if that election is going to come, let us be quite clear that we need to have it before this country crashes of the European Union without a deal. We are ready for election: bring it on! But we must either have it before 31 October or extend that deadline so that we can make a decision as a people and elect a Parliament before this fait accompli is presented to them.

That would be the legitimate thing to do, and I say to the Prime Minister that if he really wants to have an election, he should not engage in these procedural shenanigans and this duplicity in trying to game Parliament. He should put the proposal for a no-deal Brexit to the electorate and explain the consequences, and see if that is what they vote for. When that happens, I will relish the prospect of contesting that election, because we shall not only be contesting that election in order to stop Brexit and have a reconsideration of that strategy; we shall also be explaining to the people of Scotland that this is their chance to consider having a different course of action from the one laid down by the current Prime Minister. I am confident that when we go to the people of Scotland, many more than ever before will now understand the attractiveness of having political independence over their own affairs and of being able to control their own destiny and establish their own relationships with the rest of the countries in Britain, Europe and the world. That is what is coming down the track, and I warn the Government to be aware of it.

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I put it to the hon. Member for Edinburgh East (Tommy Sheppard) that the very question that he wants to put to the British people again is the question that was on the ballot paper in the 2016 referendum. The then Prime Minister made it clear in debates on television that if the country voted to leave, that decision would be implemented: article 50 would be invoked and after two years we would be out—out of the single market and out of the customs union. That is what he said, so I do not see any need to run the thing again.

I merely rise on the occasion of this debate to observe that what some people, including you, Mr Speaker, call a “constitutional outrage”—it is a little novel for the Speaker to enter into the debate quite so openly, but there we are; that is another novelty taking place in our constitution—other people refer to as a perfectly normal decision.

In truth it is neither, but this controversy reflects the evolving and changing nature of the relationship between Parliament, Government and people. That is a permanent evolution in our constitution, and two measures in particular have led to a substantial sea change in the relationship between Parliament and Government. The first is the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, which was sold to a perhaps rather unsuspecting House as a means of limiting Executive power, but in the event of a statutory no-confidence vote the Act is silent on what happens afterwards, except for the 14-day period. The Prime Minister may no longer be able to call a general election, but he is no longer obliged to resign either—at least not for 14 days. That has the effect of strengthening the incumbency of a sitting Prime Minister. Of course, that is exactly what it was intended to do—it was intended to cement the coalition in place—but it has left the House with the option to wound rather than kill Governments. I do not think that that has improved the accountability of Governments to Parliament in any way at all.

The second thing that has happened to cause this sea change is the increase in the frequency of the use of referendums. That has consequences too, as many warned, not for the sovereignty of Parliament but, as my right hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset (Dr Fox) said, for legitimacy, because we now have competing legitimacies in our constitution. What we are hearing is a bitter dispute about whether the representative nature of our democracy is a superior legitimacy to the direct—

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Will my hon. Friend give way?

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I will.

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Does my hon. Friend recall that the Vote Leave campaign said that MPs in this Parliament would decide which Brexit model—Norway, Switzerland or so on—would apply and that that was part of taking back control? The 17.4 million people were not speaking with a single voice, because they believed that there was a menu of options.

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I think there was also a menu of options available to those who voted remain, and I know many people who voted remain who wish that we would now just get on and leave. I do not think the hon. Lady makes a valid point or, indeed, undermines the fundamental point that we now have a constitution in which there are competing legitimacies. Some people are resting the authority of their argument on the representative mandate and some—the Government in particular—on the popular vote.

It is at least as much a constitutional outrage that we are still in the European Union three years after the referendum, and that tomorrow’s potential Bill should propose to hand the question of how we leave not back to this House, but to the European Union to decide—[Interruption.] It is absolutely true, because that is exactly what clause 3(2) of the draft Bill says.

The bitterness of tonight’s exchanges reflects the breakdown of our shared understanding about which mandate is legitimate: the representative or the direct. We now have a constitution containing competing ideas of legitimacy, and unless we are to abandon referendums this House should be ready to implement popular decisions that it does not like, but it has shown some reluctance to do so. If we refuse to do so, I again agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset that that will have consequences for the credibility of Parliament in the eyes of our electors. We will see the revival of alternative political parties, and I fear that this House is taking politics in that direction. The sovereignty of Parliament is not risk, but our democratic legitimacy certainly is.

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So, it has come to this tonight: the new Prime Minister and his Ministers have had not just their competence, but their good faith so destroyed across the House that this radical but necessary step to preserve parliamentary democracy and our futures has been taken. Anyone who heard either the Leader of the House or, indeed, the way in which the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster rattled away at a merry pace will recall the old words:

“The louder he talked of his honour, the faster we counted our spoons.”

The truth of the matter is that no deal would drive the NHS into the arms of Donald Trump. No deal would be no good for the people in my constituency who are now experiencing unemployment at twice the national average. No deal would be no good for the people with the desperate medical issues that the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Dr Whitford) talked about earlier.

The list of warnings about a no-deal Brexit grows longer. Warnings about the supply and prices of fresh food, essential medicines, and chaos on the roads and at ports after Halloween come not from Marxists, Trotskyists, or left-wingers, but from such radical organisations as the British Retail Consortium and the Road Haulage Association.

This is no longer just about Brexit or even whether people voted leave or remain; it is about the United Kingdom’s future as a progressive democracy. We really must take that into account, but we also have to take into account the situation of individual constituents. A man wrote to me and said:

“My father is rather ill these days and relies on a variety of medication. I am concerned what the impact of a no-deal Brexit would have on the supply of this medication.”

We have heard from those who have no axe to grind that that is absolutely the case.

I have had a letter, as many of us will have had, from an ordinary constituent:

“Please can you help with a no deal Brexit as having our NHS is as important to us as food on our plates. It’s hard to survive as it is…I cut back on food and power, have no holidays”.

“Please sort this out.” That is an ordinary constituent who is engaged not with the finer constitutional points that the Leader of the House manages to trim on a sixpence, but with the everyday bread and butter of daily living in a town like many others in the north of England where people feel left behind and vulnerable, and where to satisfy the interests of a small group of cronies around the Prime Minister this Government are trying to stamp down on everything that is said.

There is no evidence, not even a sniff, of the Government having presented any proposals to the EU. The Prime Minister fancies himself a classicist. Well, what he has been doing and the way in which he has treated his own Back Benchers is in the tradition of the proscriptions of ancient Rome.

The Prime Minister also fancies himself an admirer of Churchill. He should remember that Churchill told us that the first duty of a Member is to do what he thinks, in his faithful and disinterested judgment to the honour and safety of this Britain. That is what patriotism, real patriotism, is about, and the way in which this Prime Minister has disgracefully used the Prorogation process blunts the interests of this House and of the British people.

They are not the attributes of a British Prime Minister. I would say they are the attributes of a tinpot despot or autocrat, except this Prime Minister might think it flattered him. No, he is a petulant man-child who is unable to get his way with this House, which is why he is trying to shut down debate through Prorogation. That is why we should support this motion tonight.

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This Parliament is at the very heart of our national story and our shared history, and it is what the Prime Minister’s great idol, Winston Churchill, called the “cockpit of the nation.” To seek to bar the door to that cockpit as the nation flies into one of the biggest constitutional storms in its history is an unsettling thing for a Government to do. It may not be illegal or unconstitutional, but it is not how a strong, responsible Government would conduct themselves.

Europhobic conspiracy theorists occasionally claim that the EU wants to reduce the House of Commons to a mere council chamber. I am afraid that if the Government achieve their aims this week, they will have gone further and reduced us from a proud sovereign Parliament to a mere debating club to be dismissed when it becomes inconvenient.

If the Government succeed this week, what is to stop the Prime Minister doing it again in the future? What is to stop the Leader of the Opposition, should he come to power, and I hope that never comes to pass? Precedent matters, and so does motive. The Government’s claim that Prorogation is to enable them to put forward new domestic legislation is clearly nonsense—a fig leaf to hide their attempt to evade accountability.

This House has stood as the defender of our liberties for centuries. The historian Robert Saunders put it best:

“the UK government shines with borrowed light: a light that comes *solely* from the consent of our elected representatives. Shut that down, and our democracy is plunged into darkness.”

It has indeed been plunged into darkness. We are in darkness.

It is claimed that this Prorogation is a normal Prorogation, but it is not. This Parliament would have expected the Leader of the House to table a recess motion, which would have asked us to agree to the party conference recess. That motion has never been put to us. As Members of Parliament, we have never been asked to agree to the recess, and it is highly likely that we would not have done so given the scale of the crisis that faces our country.

The Leader of the House claims to speak for 17.4 million people. Well, I want to tell him about a constituent of mine. I was on the train, going back to my constituency, when a constituent approached me and said, “You’re my MP. I voted for leave, because I wanted to give David Cameron a kicking. I did not really think it would go through. Please, now, do something to change that.”

I have voted three times for the withdrawal agreement. Three times I have seen Members from my party vote that agreement down, even though their Conservative Prime Minister told them that it complied with our manifesto commitment to an orderly exit. A constituent has written to me this evening to say, “The Leader of the House has rebelled against a Conservative-led Government more than 100 times and he has been rewarded with a place on the Front Bench.” Yet my right hon. Friend the Member for South West Hertfordshire (Mr Gauke), who has never voted against the Government, is going to be expelled from the party. What times we live in. I will be voting for this motion.

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I will not support this motion, just as I did not support the motion the last time Parliament tried to change the way we work constitutionally. We were told then that it was a one-off, but we are now in our second or third one-off. If this goes through tonight, we will be debating a Bill tomorrow. If we look at it in detail—I know we will have that debate tomorrow—we will see that it makes it clear that it will give even more power to the European Union over how long we should have any kind of extension.

I know this is only a rumour but there is usually some truth in rumours, so I was concerned to hear today that some of the people who drafted this motion for the Bill took advice from EU lawyers. If that happened, it is shocking. I know there will be people in this House who think that there is nothing wrong with that, as they want to be as close as possible to the EU and there is nothing wrong in taking advice from it, but I believe that if this motion is passed tonight the Bill tomorrow will humiliate this Parliament.

We heard a lot about constitutional outrage when the announcement was made about the Queen’s Speech. Four or five extra days have been added to a recess that we all knew about just before the House got up. If people had felt strongly about this, they could have acted and got that discussion then. I genuinely believe that those four or five extra days are much less of a constitutional outrage than what we are setting a precedent for today, which would take away powers from Government. Our side will be in government one day—perhaps a general election is coming; we will be in that same position, and people should be careful. What we are saying today to people is, “What is the point of voting?” They voted to leave and leave won. As many people have said, there was nothing on the ballot paper that said, “We did not vote with a no-deal.” But there was also nothing on that ballot paper that said we wanted to be half in or half out, that we wanted to pay £39 billion or that we wanted to do all those things that were in the withdrawal agreement. We voted to leave. People voted to leave. I know that many people who will vote in this House tonight are remainers who have accepted the result, but the reality is that many colleagues, particularly on my side, actually want to stop Brexit. They see now using “no deal” as almost being synonymous with stopping Brexit—that is the real truth about what is going on.

The right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) has been honest from the beginning. He is not in his seat now but he talked tonight about “tearing the country apart”. What on earth is another extension going to do, other than tear the country apart even more? What on earth are we going to gain by another extension that we have not already been able to achieve in the past two and a half years? What will this actually achieve?

If we vote for the motion tonight, we will send a signal to all those people who voted to leave that we know best—that we are being arrogant and that we know best about how the future outside the European Union will work. That is going to come home and hit right through, particularly to my party, but to the Conservative party as well, when we get a general election. Any Labour party Member who did not vote for a general election would look absolutely ridiculous. Bring on an election and let the people show what they really want.

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It is an honour to follow the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey).

I rise to oppose the motion, and shall do so by considering what it sets out to achieve. The motion does not prevent no deal; it simply requires the Prime Minister, if a deal is not agreed, to ask for an extension and to accept it. That does not avoid no deal; it simply pushes further away the point at which we in this House have to make a decision. The people we represent are expecting us to make a decision. It is what we are here for. It is what they are crying out for us to do. I say to Members of all parties: we cannot legislate no deal away; we can only vote for a deal or revoke article 50. If revocation is what is sought—I know that some Members would favour that—let us have that debate and say so. Those who voted as part of the overwhelming majority for the referendum and to trigger article 50 can then explain why they have changed their minds. The question of revocation was tested in the indicative votes and heavily defeated. I venture to say that there is no majority for revocation in the House, so all that this procedure seeks to do is to delay—to kick the can further down the road in the hope that something will turn up.

In essence, no plan is proposed in the motion. By contrast, the Government are pursuing a strategy based on the only thing that has commanded a majority in this House: the Brady amendment on alternative arrangements to replace the backstop. It will be said that the EU has no intention of doing replacing it, but the EU is watching and waiting to see what we do here. It has no incentive to move for as long as it thinks that Parliament will destroy the Government’s negotiating position or cancel Brexit altogether. If we in this House declare in advance that we must come to an agreement, the Government’s negotiating position is destroyed and the EU will never have an incentive to move. Rather than banishing no deal, then, this whole scheme makes it impossible to achieve one, and in so doing puts off the day of reckoning even further. But that day cannot be avoided forever.

There is only one way to avoid no deal and to achieve a deal, and paradoxically that is to be ready and willing to leave without one. Only if we are clear about that does the Prime Minister stand a chance. I accept that that readiness causes disquiet among so many of my right hon. and hon. Friends tonight, but I urge all those friends who, like me, want to see a deal, to come with us and give the Prime Minister the unequivocal backing that he needs, because that is the only path to the deal that we all want to see. To vote against the Government tonight is not to vote against no deal; to vote against the Government tonight is to vote against even the possibility of a deal—against the chance of a deal and even the glimmer of a deal. The motion and the Bill it foreshadows achieve nothing more than a delay, which in turn achieves nothing more than to sow more division and discord—the division and discord that is doing such damage to our country’s social fabric.

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I am pleased to speak in favour of the motion, which would enable us to pass a Bill tomorrow to prevent our crashing out of the EU with no deal at the end of October.

Let us remember why we are at this point. This discussion is happening now because the Prime Minister is running scared of democracy. The Prime Minister knows that his reckless no-deal Brexit will never get the support of this House, but instead of his having the courage to make his case here and put himself up to scrutiny, Parliament is going to be suspended—brushed aside as an inconvenience to an Executive who are, frankly, lurching out of control.

I am proud that so many brave colleagues inside this House and so many of the public outside it are saying so loudly and clearly that they will not stand for this Prime Minister’s blatant power grab, that they will not stand for a no-deal Brexit being rammed through this House and that they will stand up to make sure that this legislature does what it is meant to do, which is to hold this Executive—this feral, out-of-control Executive—to account.

There has been a lot of talk about democracy tonight. [Interruption.] I have to say that the body language of the Leader of the House this evening has been so contemptuous of this House and of the people. For the benefit of Hansard, he has been spread out across three seats. He is laid out as if this is something that is very boring for him to listen to. He has been lecturing us about democracy, but we will have none of it. This Government have no mandate for the vicious form of Brexit they are pursuing. It was never on the ballot paper. More than that, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said as recently as March:

“We did not vote to leave without a deal: that wasn’t the message of the campaign I helped to lead.”

Let us hear no more of this posturing that, somehow, those on the Government Benches are standing up for the people and that we are not. Those of us on the Opposition Benches, particularly those who have been arguing for a people’s vote from the very start, are precisely the ones who are standing up for the people and want their voices to be heard in this debate.

Time is short, and I want to make two more very quick points. The first is that, in all of this debate about process and procedure, we are in danger of forgetting what a no deal actually means for the people of this country. What it means, as we know from Operation Yellowhammer, is shortages of food and fuel. It means people unable to get their life-saving medicines. It also means a nightmare for people in Northern Ireland. I pay tribute to the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon), who has made that case so many times. How dare we, in this Chamber, think that we are going to rip up the Good Friday agreement and that it is nothing to be concerned about. There is everything to be concerned about in that.

I also want to say a word about the 3 million—the people who have made their lives here in this country expecting that their contribution would be valued, instead of which they are now in an intolerable limbo, not knowing whether their rights will be upheld.

Finally, I want to make a point that I think is important, but that some may feel is boring. One of the many reasons why we are in this crisis is that we do not have a codified written constitution. It is only the unwritten, uncodified understandings that protect the body politic from regressing to government with minimal checks, balances and accountability. Up to now we have had to depend on people playing by the rules. Well, now we have a Government who are not playing by the rules. We now need more than ever a written constitution drawn up by a democratic citizens’ convention that will put people at the heart of our politics for the first time in UK history.

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The crux of the debate tonight is whether we seek to bind and obstruct our Government in a critical period, as they seek options between the current withdrawal deal, which has been rejected three times by lots of people in this House, and no deal, which is actually a series of mini deals. I am sure that the former Chancellor of the Exchequer and my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) have been engaged in negotiations at a far more senior level than I, but I do find it a little bizarre that we could seek to bind the hands of our Government at this point if those right hon. Gentlemen trust the people in power, and I have to say that I do.

I was engaged a bit in some of the negotiations with tribal Afghan leaders. I also conducted village negotiations in the Basra marshes in 2008 and 2009. Showing the limits of our negotiating power and showing what we were willing or not willing to do would have fatally undermined some of the conversations that happened to try to protect British troops and to try to stop ourselves being attacked. Therefore, binding the hands of the Government as they seek to negotiate a better deal is counterproductive, although I understand the concerns. The reason why this debate is so bad tempered is that it has gone on for three years. We hear tedious clichés, such as “a blind Brexit”, “a Tory Brexit” and “I’m not here to stop Brexit, but…”. The hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) said that many people on the Opposition Benches were using this no-deal Brexit motion simply as another means to stop Brexit.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve) quoted Thomas More. I have been in this House for two years, and I feel like quoting Macbeth:

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day”.

That is how I feel, because all we talk about is Brexit. I want us to get on and talk about lots of other things that are important to us. In fact—if Members do not mind me mixing my cultural references—it feels like groundhog day.

Pro-EU campaigners are concerned about protecting the rights of Parliament. I find that slightly ironic coming from people who want to stay in the European Union, which would do far more damage to the rights of Parliament than this Government ever would.

I want a deal, but I accept that the most important thing is to deliver, in order to have trust in politics. I am also aware that neither side is perfect, and that there are people now sitting on the Government Front Bench who could have voted for a deal but did not, just as there are people on the Opposition Benches who could have voted for a deal but did not. But we need to deliver on a deal. The reason I am against the motion is that it would provide another extension, and then we would simply continue in a debate that would become endless and tedious. We need to bring this to an end so that we can deliver on our manifesto commitments in other areas to the British people.

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Following the comments of the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas), I am sure that it would be possible to provide the Leader of the House with a pillow to make him more comfortable, as he seems to be struggling during the debate.

I rise to support the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin). We have a simple objective: to block no deal and secure a resolution to the crisis and chaos that the country faces. A series of Government reports have set out the consequences of no deal, the most recent of which is on Operation Yellowhammer. It refers to medicine, fuel and food shortages, and increased risks on the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. The Government have been so shocked and embarrassed that they have attempted to sanitise the report—in fact, they have tried to make it disappear. However, it is in the interests of all our constituents—apart, of course, from those who are busy shorting the pound—to block no deal. We are not talking, as Ministers do, about bumps in the road; we are talking about job losses and business closures.

The Government claim that taking no deal off the table would damage our prospects of securing a deal. The first problem I have with that argument is that walking away without a deal is not like walking out of the car showroom without a car; in a no-deal scenario, we will be forced to leave with the banger with bald tyres and a chipped windscreen. The second problem, as set out by the right hon. Member for West Dorset, is that no deal will damage us far more than it will our EU friends. With no deal, the EU will get a headache, but we will get severe angina.

The final problem is that there is no evidence that the Government are seeking a deal. The EU-UK website lists three documents since June that touch on the issue. There have been a couple of calls between our Prime Minister and Jean-Claude Juncker. There has been our chief negotiator, David Frost, going to Brussels, but he has said that under no circumstances would he even allow a technical extension to article 50, which of course we all know would be required if the Government were in fact to secure a deal. I have asked colleagues in the European Parliament, and we have asked Guy Verhofstadt, whether there is any evidence whatsoever that the Government are seeking a deal, and the answer is that there is total radio silence from the UK Government on deal negotiations. Of course, the charming Dominic Cummings—the man who has staff escorted off the premises by armed police officers—let the cat out of the bag when he said that the negotiations are a “sham”.

In conclusion, tonight we must act, first, to stop a calamitous, jobs-destroying, influence-sapping no-deal Brexit; secondly, to force the Government to find a way out of a paralysis that is destroying our country’s credibility, tearing communities apart and stopping the Government dealing with the real problems we face as a nation; thirdly, to allow the people to express their views on the appropriateness of a no-deal Brexit; and finally, to demonstrate that the UK Parliament will resist the shutdown of our democracy and the authoritarian power grab of a rogue minority Government.

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It has been quite a long time since I have had the opportunity to speak in the Chamber. Well, I have spoken—as I am sure you will attest, Mr Speaker—but mainly from a sedentary position. The reason, of course, is that for the vast majority of the past year, I had the privilege of serving the former Prime Minister as her Parliamentary Private Secretary, meaning that for the majority of the past 259 days, I have lived and breathed Brexit: deal, no deal, indicative votes, Cooper-Letwin, Boles, the withdrawal agreement, the negotiations, the renegotiations and all the attempts by the former Prime Minister, along with a group of utterly brilliant and dedicated colleagues, Ministers, civil servants and special advisers to ensure that this country left the EU with a deal. I did so not just because it was my job, but because I genuinely, completely and utterly believed that for my constituents, for this country, for our Union, for its businesses and for our economy, it was the only rational and sensible thing to do, and I still do. But I do not support the motion in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) and I cannot vote for it this evening.

In my opinion, if we MPs—from all parts of this House—truly want to act in the national interest, as I know most of us do, we must support the Prime Minister and this Government in their efforts to renegotiate the deal and leave the European Union on 31 October. To be able to do that, the EU must know that we are serious about leaving, and that means keeping no deal on the table. If we support the motion before us tonight, we will know—the world will know—that we are not serious at all, and where then is the motivation and impetus to get this done?

To those on the Opposition Benches who claim that they would do anything to stop no deal, I ask this simple question: why didn’t you? When the question was brought before the House three times, why didn’t you? It is no good protesting that the deal was not good enough, that there were no guarantees or that, “If only we had known what was going to be in the withdrawal agreement Bill, we would have voted for it.” If those Members were genuinely serious about doing anything to stop no deal, they would have voted for a deal, so I ask them to stop pulling the wool over the eyes of the public and to be honest with voters.

To my friends and colleagues on the Government Benches, for whom I have so much respect and for whose support for the former Prime Minister over the last year I am personally very grateful, I say this: please do not undermine this Prime Minister as so often this House of Commons undermined the last; please give our negotiators the support they need to get the changes to the deal that we need; and please do not allow to be taken off the table the one thing that is pushing both sides towards achieving just that.

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I fondly remember being in the room with my hon. Friend on a number of occasions, and I very much look forward to his memoirs on all these subjects.

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I will give my hon. Friend a signed copy when I get around to writing them. I know that many of my friends will be voting against the Government and against their party tonight.

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Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

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Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

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I will not give way; there is far too little time.

For many Members, this will be the first time they have ever voted against this party, after decades of loyal service to it. I know that many have wrestled with their consciences as I have wrestled with mine, and I hear their arguments. This is not an easy decision for anybody, but I will be supporting my Prime Minister this evening. We need to get this deal renegotiated. We need to get this done. We need to leave the EU. Then we can at long last move the country forward.

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I rise in opposition to this motion and in support of my Prime Minister, essentially for two reasons. The first is that there is more than a whiff of arrogance in this motion. Too many remain MPs in this place will use any device to try to block Brexit. There are honourable remain Members, but I am afraid that there are too many who are not. The decision was delegated by this place to the people, and they made their decision very clearly. We have been kicking this can down the road for three years and to many outside this Westminster bubble, enough is enough. I remind the House that the majority of Members who are going to support the motion voted in favour of triggering article 50, which said, very simply, that we would be leaving the EU with or without a deal. We have twice extended that time line, and that is why people outside this place are getting very frustrated with many colleagues here tonight.

Apart from the arrogance, this decision is ill-informed. It will make a bad deal more likely. Anyone who has negotiated in business or with any organisations will know that if the other side believes that one is not prepared to walk away, it will make for a worse deal—it is a simple fact of life. Most of us in this place prefer a good trade deal to no deal, but the guaranteed way of getting a bad deal is to take no deal off the table. Business people in this House, and many who have negotiated deals, will understand that.

This decision is also ill-informed from an economic point of view. No deal has been derided without examining a lot of the economic facts. Time does not allow here and now for those points to be made—[Interruption]and too many people are talking anyway, so they would not hear them. I would merely suggest that people reflect on the fact that half of the EU’s top 10 trading partners trade on WTO no-deal terms with parties outside the EU—it is a simple fact of life.

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I sincerely hope that I am not seen to be an arrogant Member of this House. I always try to represent the interests of the far north of Scotland. Will the hon. Gentleman, and others in the Chamber, at least accept that a no-deal Brexit would ruin the crofters and sheep farmers in my constituency, and that would lead to the second highland clearances?

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If there is no deal—most of us in this place want a good trade deal—there would be tens of billions of pounds to help those sectors of the economy and industry to readjust, as we have seen in previous economic cycles. It is a fact of life.

Too many people, not just in this place but outside, ignore the fact that investment and jobs are about comparative advantage. It is about how competitive our tax rates are and how flexible our labour markets are, and what our financial expertise is like—we have London and we have Edinburgh. What about our R&D and top universities? In aggregate, those are more important than WTO tariffs of 3% to 5%.

If proof of the pudding were required, with all the talk in the past few years about no deal being better than a bad deal, industry has been fully aware that no deal has been a distinct possibility and what have we seen economically? We have seen record low unemployment, record manufacturing output and record investment. This country attracted more inward investment last year than France and Germany put together. It comes down to economic reality. I am afraid that some Members of the House, in coming to their decision tonight, have not considered the economic facts.

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I have been a member of my party for 50 years, and throughout that time, I have believed in our membership of the European Union. I campaigned for that in the referendum. My constituency voted to remain in the European Union, albeit by the very narrowest of margins, but my side lost and I accept therefore that we need to leave the European Union. I want to leave with a deal. People in my constituency and businesses—those who work hard to build wealth in this country—are genuinely concerned about the impacts of leaving without a deal. Their concerns are not illegitimate: they are real, and they need to be addressed. Equally, they have real and genuine concerns about prolonged uncertainty, and we as politicians need to weigh heavily the damage perhaps done reputationally to our body politic.

These are not easy matters. We have had a great many statements of bold certainty in this debate and too many other things—perhaps too much hyperbole and not enough pragmatism. My conclusion, to try to reconcile that narrow margin in my constituency and those conflicting but genuine concerns of my constituents, has been to vote three times to leave with a deal. I wish others had done so as well.

If I believed that passing this motion today would make it easier for us to achieve a deal, I would support it, but I do not believe that it does. You will know, Mr Speaker, that I have not been afraid to defy the Whip of my party in the past when I thought it right and proper to do so. But after real heart searching and thought, I have concluded that it would not have that effect, and that it might, regrettably, have the contrary effect, of reducing the Government’s leverage in negotiations. If we are to get a deal, the only point that we will realistically do that now is at the Council on 17 and 18 October. I do not wish to bind the hands of the Government in the run-up to that.

It may be a narrowing window of opportunity to get a deal. We may not succeed, but for the sake of my constituents, and to reflect that narrow margin in my constituency and in the country and try to find a means of us moving on together, I believe that we should try to seize that opportunity. I do not impugn for one second the motives or the integrity of those who have proposed this motion—many of them are among my dearest and best friends in this House—but I believe it would be mistaken to support it. For that reason, I will support the Government. I urge my hon. and right hon. Friends to think again before we cross the Rubicon. For 50 years, many of us have worked together. I hope we can continue to do so in the future, and I hope that they will reflect one last time before taking the step of voting against the Government tonight.

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For three long years, we have talked about, debated and voted repeatedly on Brexit in this House, and yet here we stand after three years not having reached any firm resolution. In supporting the motion before the House this evening, we would simply prolong even further the uncertainty that our country and our businesses are experiencing, which my hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill) described in his excellent speech. We have a responsibility, having been elected in 2017 on manifestos to respect the referendum result, to do so, to stop prevaricating, to stop kicking the can down the road and, one way or another, to reach a definitive conclusion. The motion before the House does not do that. It simply prevaricates even further.

Some Opposition Members have been very clear about what they want, and I respect that. My neighbour, the right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake), and the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) have both been clear previously and this evening that they would rather remain in the European Union and that they certainly do not want a no-deal exit. I disagree with that view, but at least they have clarity in expressing it. They also say that they do not want to leave with no deal, but those who adopt that view have only two choices: either to accept any deal that is offered up, no matter how bad, or to remain, and I do not think either of those options is acceptable. Remaining, when the country voted to leave and the main two parties were elected on manifestos to leave, is wholly unacceptable. There is only one sensible option, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst eloquently pointed out—

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claimed to move the closure (Standing Order No. 36).

Question put forthwith, That the Question be now put.

Question agreed to.

Main Question put accordingly.

The House proceeded to a Division.

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I ask the Serjeant at Arms to investigate the delay in the Aye Lobby.

Division 439

3 September 2019

The House having divided:

Ayes: 328
Noes: 301

Question accordingly agreed to.

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Ordered,

That this House has considered the matter of the need to take all necessary steps to ensure that the United Kingdom does not leave the European Union on 31 October 2019 without a withdrawal agreement and accordingly makes provision as set out in this order:

(1) On Wednesday 4 September 2019

(a) Standing Order No. 14(1) (which provides that government business shall have precedence at every sitting save as provided in that order) shall not apply;

(b) any proceedings governed by this order may be proceeded with until any hour, though opposed, and shall not be interrupted;

(c) the Speaker may not propose the question on the previous question, and may not put any question under Standing Order No. 36 (Closure of debate) or Standing Order No. 163 (Motion to sit in private);

(d) at 3.00 pm, the Speaker shall interrupt any business prior to the business governed by this order and call a Member to present the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill of which notice of presentation has been given and immediately thereafter (notwithstanding the practice of the House) call a Member to move the motion that the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill be now read a second time as if it were an order of the House;

(e) in respect of that Bill, notices of Amendments, new Clauses and new Schedules to be moved in Committee may be accepted by the Clerks at the Table before the Bill has been read a second time.

(f) any proceedings interrupted or superseded by this order may be resumed or (as the case may be) entered upon and proceeded with after the moment of interruption.

(2) The provisions of paragraphs (3) to (18) of this order shall apply to and in connection with the proceedings on the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill in the present Session of Parliament.

Timetable for the Bill on Wednesday 4 September 2019

(3) (a) Proceedings on Second Reading and in Committee of the whole House, any proceedings on Consideration and proceedings up to and including Third Reading shall be taken at the sitting on Wednesday 4 September 2019 in accordance with this Order.

(b) Proceedings on Second Reading shall be brought to a conclusion (so far as not previously concluded) at 5.00 pm.

(c) Proceedings in Committee of the whole House, any proceedings on Consideration and proceedings up to and including Third Reading shall be brought to a conclusion (so far as not previously concluded) at 7.00 pm.

Timing of proceedings and Questions to be put on Wednesday 4 September 2019

(4) When the Bill has been read a second time:

(a) it shall, notwithstanding Standing Order No. 63 (Committal of bills not subject to a programme order), stand committed to a Committee of the whole House without any Question being put;

(b) the Speaker shall leave the Chair whether or not notice of an Instruction has been given.

(5) (a) On the conclusion of proceedings in Committee of the whole House, the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without putting any Question.

(b) If the Bill is reported with amendments, the House shall proceed to consider the Bill as amended without any Question being put.

(6) For the purpose of bringing any proceedings to a conclusion in accordance with paragraph (3), the Chairman or Speaker shall forthwith put the following Questions in the same order as they would fall to be put if this Order did not apply—

(a) any Question already proposed from the Chair;

(b) any Question necessary to bring to a decision a Question so proposed;

(c) the Question on any amendment, new clause or new schedule selected by the Chairman or Speaker for separate decision;

(d) the Question on any amendment moved or Motion made by a designated Member;

(e) any other Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded; and shall not put any other Questions, other than the Question on any motion described in paragraph (16) of this Order.

(7) On a Motion made for a new Clause or a new Schedule, the Chairman or Speaker shall put only the Question that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill.

Consideration of Lords Amendments and Messages on a subsequent day

(8) If any message on the Bill (other than a message that the House of Lords agrees with the Bill without amendment or agrees with any message from this House) is expected from the House of Lords on any future sitting day, the House shall not adjourn until that message has been received and any proceedings under paragraph (10) have been concluded.

(9) On any day on which such a message is received, if a designated Member indicates to the Speaker an intention to proceed to consider that message—

(a) notwithstanding Standing Order No. 14(1) (which provides that government business shall have precedence at every sitting save as provided in that order), any Lords Amendments to the Bill or any further Message from the Lords on the Bill may be considered forthwith without any Question being put; and any proceedings interrupted for that purpose shall be suspended accordingly;

(b) proceedings on consideration of Lords Amendments or on any further Message from the Lords shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour after their commencement; and any proceedings suspended under subparagraph (a) shall thereupon be resumed;

(c) the Speaker may not propose the question on the previous question, and may not put any question under Standing Order No. 36 (Closure of debate) or Standing Order No. 163 (Motion to sit in private) in the course of those proceedings.

(10) If such a message is received on or before the commencement of public business on Monday 9 September and a designated Member indicates to the Speaker an intention to proceed to consider that message, that message shall be considered before any order of the day or notice of motion which stands on the Order Paper.

(11) Paragraphs (2) to (7) of Standing Order No. 83F (Programme orders: conclusion of proceedings on consideration of Lords amendments) apply for the purposes of bringing any proceedings on consideration of Lords Amendments to a conclusion as if:

(a) any reference to a Minister of the Crown were a reference to a designated Member;

(b) after paragraph (4)(a) there is inserted –

“(aa) the question on any amendment or motion selected by the Speaker for separate decision;”.

(12) Paragraphs (2) to (5) of Standing Order No. 83G (Programme orders: conclusion of proceedings on further messages from the Lords) apply for the purposes of bringing any proceedings on consideration of a Lords Message to a conclusion as if:

(a) any reference to a Minister of the Crown were a reference to a designated Member;

(b) in paragraph (5), the words “subject to paragraphs (6) and (7)” were omitted.

Reasons Committee

(13) Paragraphs (2) to (6) of Standing Order No. 83H (Programme orders: reasons committee) apply in relation to any committee to be appointed to draw up reasons after proceedings have been brought to a conclusion in accordance with this Order as if any reference to a Minister of the Crown were a reference to a designated Member.

Miscellaneous

(14) Standing Order No. 82 (Business Committee) shall not apply in relation to any proceedings on the Bill to which this Order applies.

(15) No Motion shall be made, except by a designated Member, to alter the order in which any proceedings on the Bill are taken, to recommit the Bill or to vary or supplement the provisions of this Order.

(16) (a) No dilatory Motion shall be made in relation to proceedings on the Bill to which this Order applies except by a designated Member.

(b) The Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith.

(17) Proceedings to which this Order applies shall not be interrupted under any Standing Order relating to the sittings of the House.

(18) No private business may be considered at any sitting to which the provisions of this order apply.

Motion under section 3(2)(b) of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019

(19) No motion may be made by a Minister of the Crown under section 3(2)(b) of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 prior to Monday 9 September.

Royal Assent

(20) At the sittings on Monday 9 September, Tuesday 10 September and Wednesday 11 September, the House shall not adjourn until the Speaker shall have reported the Royal Assent to any Act agreed upon by both Houses.

Proceedings in next Session of Parliament

(21) The provisions of paragraphs (22) and (23) of this order apply to and in connection with proceedings on a Bill in the next Session of the present Parliament if—

(a) the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill has been read the third time in the present Session of Parliament but has not received the Royal Assent;

(b) the Speaker is satisfied that the Bill is in similar terms to the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill in the present Session of Parliament;

(c) notice of presentation of the Bill is to be given by a designated Member.

(22) Where the conditions in paragraph (21) are met, Standing Order No. 14(11) (which relates to precedence in respect of private Members’ Bills) shall not apply in respect of the Bill in the new Session and notice of presentation of that Bill may be given on the first day of the new Session accordingly.

(23) Where the conditions in paragraph (21) are met, the provisions of paragraphs (1), (3) to (9) and (11) to (18) shall apply to proceedings on and in connection with the Bill in the new Session as they apply to the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill and any reference in this order to Wednesday 4 September shall apply as if it were a reference to the second day of the new Session.

Interpretation, etc

(24) In this Order, “a designated Member” means—

(a) the Member in charge of the Bill in the present Session of Parliament; and

(b) any other Member backing the Bill in the present Session of Parliament and acting on behalf of that Member.

(25) This order shall be a Standing Order of the House.