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Friday, 15 March 2019
Second referendum amendment defeated
AMENDMENT H calling for a second referendum was resoundingly defeated in parliament last night by 249 votes, with just 85 MPs voting for and 334 voting against.
The Amendment was put in the name of MP Sarah Wollaston, proposed by the so-called Independent Group of MPs who split from the Labour and Tory parties. The amendment called for the extension of Article 50 in order to hold another referendum.
It was one of four amendments selected by the chair to be debated as part of a government motion to extend Article 50. During the debate the Tory Party openly split in the House of Commons.
Tory David Lidington, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, told parliament: ‘We need to decide how long an extension to propose and we need to put that proposal to the European Council, before they meet next week in order to seek agreement from the 27 States.’
Lidington warned: ‘We have two options. If the House has approved a meaningful vote by the 20th March, and agreed a timetable for the EU Withdrawal Bill, we can expect the European Union to agree a short technical extension to allow the necessary legislation to be carried through.
‘If that proves, for whatever reason, not to be possible, we would be faced with the prospect of choosing only a long extension which the House would need to face up to the choices in front of it and the decisions it has taken.
‘But we should be clear about the consequences if that were to happen. If we are in the world of a longer extension for this House to come to a decision, we will be required as a condition to hold European Parliamentary elections.’
Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee, William Cash, intervened: ‘Alarmingly, during his speech the Chancellor of the Duchy did not answer my intervention. I was asking for confirmation that the repeal of the Withdrawal Act of 2018 means repeal of the 1972 Act, contained within it.
‘This includes the time and date of us leaving the European Union on the 29th March, 2019. This is the law of the land, which despite any motions which may be passed, precludes not only an extension of time, but also the revocation of Article 50. This is what the voters, voted for in the referendum. The United Kingdom is in the middle of a very dangerous cross road, in the middle of a fog.’
Keir Starmer, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary said: ‘I rise to support amendment E in my name and in the name of the leader of the opposition. We have said time and time again that the two proposals that we have always argued for is a close economic relationship with the EU and we are supportive of a public vote.
‘Here we are, 15 days to go, Article 50 extension is a necessity not a choice. It is the only way to try to prevent leaving without a deal on the 29th of March and that is what our amendment seeks to achieve. Parliament must act today and instruct parliament to seek an extension of Article 50.’
Justine Greening, Tory MP for Putney said that the reason for getting an extension of Article 50, would be to have enough time to hold a second referendum. She said: ‘I don’t think that we are going to reach a conclusion on this issue. And I think ministers now need to show some leadership to unblock a route forward.
‘I think that I am happy frankly for people to pick a spectrum of very different outcomes in terms of the path forward. The reality is that we had a referendum about leaving the European Union, not about where we were to go. We need to finish off the referendum, go back to them with a further one and find out where they actually want to go.’
Geraint Davies, Labour MP for Swansea West went even further, he said: ‘We are running to the end where we are saying let’s have an extension. What if the EU says you can’t have an extension, you can’t make up your mind. Then the choice will be crash out without a deal and the carnage, the medicine shortages, the food shortages, the law not working anymore.
‘Or we end up with revoking Article 50 and to continue as usual. And frankly I supported a public vote on the deal, to give the people the final say, but ultimately if that is the choice, we need to simply revoke Article 50 and stay where we are, because people now know how good the EU is, what a good deal we are getting.’ The vote on the amended motion was due later.
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