You would be forgiven for feeling completely confused by the various votes and shenanigans going on in the Commons this evening. There are manoeuvres to stop Brexit and to bring down the Government which cannot be motivated by national interest. The Government is seeking to second guess these various endeavours which is leaving everyone confused and perplexed and which is why the Government motions are written in the fashion that they are.
I’m determined, as are most reasonable and constructive colleagues, to work to ensure Parliament honours the referendum result and, in my view, it is far better to leave on the 29th March with a Withdrawal Agreement. I was reassured that in meetings I have had today, that the Government plan to secure the support of Parliament for a Withdrawal Agreement before we leave the EU. This intention is recognised across the House which explains why there is so much effort to drown out the Government - opposition benches are hell-bent on stopping Brexit.
Over the coming days, weeks and months I will continue to do my best to ensure the result of the referendum is respected and at the same time, that our exit from the EU is as smooth as possible.
Following the result of the vote Theresa May stated:
The House has today provided a clear majority against leaving without a deal, however I will repeat what I have said before. These are about the choices this House faces. The legal default in UK and EU law remains that the UK will leave the EU without a deal unless something else is agreed. The onus is now on every one of us in this House to find out what that is.
The options for us are the same as they always have been. We could leave with the deal which this Government has negotiated for the past two years, we could leave with the deal we have negotiated but subject to a second referendum, but that would risk no Brexit at all, damaging the fragile trust between the British public and the Members of this House. We could seek to negotiate a different deal however the EU has been clear that the deal on the table is indeed the only deal available.
Mr Speaker I also confirmed last night that if the House declined to approve leaving without a deal on the 29th March 2019 the Government would bring forward a motion on whether the House supports seeking to agree an extension to Article 50 with the EU, which is the logical consequence of the votes over the past two days in this House. The Leader of the House will shortly make an emergency business statement confirming the change to tomorrow’s business. The motion we will table will set out the fundamental choice facing this House.
If the House finds a way in the coming days to support a deal it would allow the Government to seek a short limited technical extension to Article 50 to provide time to pass the necessary legislation and to ratify the agreement we have reached with the EU.
But let me be clear, such a short technical extension is only likely to be on offer if we have a deal in place. Therefore the House has to understand and accept that if it is not willing to support a deal in the coming days and as it is not willing to support leaving the EU without a deal on the 29th March then it is suggesting that there will need to be a much longer extension to Article 50, such an extension would undoubtedly require the United Kingdom to hold European Parliament elections in May 2019.
I do not think that would be the right outcome. But the House needs to face up to the consequences of the decisions that has taken.