Tuesday, 1 October 2019

No Surrender

The House spent some time last Thursday morning trying to ascertain whether the government would stick to the terms of the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019. (This is the measure described variously as the "Surrender" Act or "a form of capitulation" by the prime minister and his myrmidons.) The Act
was passed by the House and given Royal Assent by Her Majesty the Queen on Monday 9 September, brought in the names of my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn) and the right hon. Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt). That Act clearly says that the Prime Minister must seek an extension to article 50 to 31 January if the Prime Minister is unable to meet one of the two conditions of either having a withdrawal deal passed by this House, or having an affirmative vote by this House to back no deal. - From the introductory speech by Ian Murray (Labour).

The fact that Alistair Burt, not only a former Conservative minister but one with a worldwide reputation, supported the Act cut no ice with our prime minister who respects no-one and nothing. Murray went on:
under questioning from myself, very late in the sitting last night, when I asked whether he would fully comply with the provisions of the Act, should he not get a deal through this House, or an affirmative vote for no deal, by 19 October, the Prime Minister answered with one word: he answered, “No.”

It is difficult to see how the PM can get out of this. Perhaps he has a Baldrickian cunning plan to ensure that he is not actually prime minister when 19th October comes round and that thus the terms of the Act cannot be complied with.

If by "surrendering" and "treason" the PM means giving us some more breathing-space in which to resolve our internal political difficulties while our businesses continue to trade, pulling in far more than the £150m per week than we would continue to contribute to EU programmes, then count me a traitor.

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