Many of you have been in touch with me recently regarding Brexit and the new deal that the Prime Minister has negotiated with the EU.
As you will know Parliament sat for the first time on a Saturday in 37 years to debate the deal that the Prime Minister has negotiated with the EU and, as I have made clear, it was my intention to vote against this deal, as I believe it will have a hugely negative effect on the UK.
However, on Saturday Parliament approved an amendment brought forward by Sir Oliver Letwin MP, which ensured that Brexit could not proceed without legislation being in place. I supported this amendment, which passed by 322 votes to 306, as it provides us with an insurance policy to ensure that we do not leave the EU without a deal being in place.
Also, as the Benn Act kicked in on Saturday, the Prime Minister somewhat reluctantly wrote to the EU to comply with the law and request an extension. However, as the Prime Minister clearly did not want an extension, Parliament was presented with a very tight timetable to get the Government’s legislation through before the 31 October deadline.
The second reading of the Government’s Bill took place on Tuesday 22 October, and the Prime Minister was successful in getting a majority in the Commons for his deal, which passed by 329 votes to 299
I of course voted against this legislation, as the Bill and the Political Agreement could cause huge levels of uncertainty for Northern Ireland and could remove guarantees for environmental protections and worker’s rights.
Following this, the Government then proposed its Programme Motion, which would have meant Parliament would have to complete all stages of the Bill by Thursday 2 October. This was simply not enough time to properly scrutinise and debate the legislation properly, and so I also voted against this. This time, the Government was defeated by 322 votes to 308. The Prime Minister then announced that this legislation will be paused while the EU determines what action it will take in response to the extension request, and the EU did in fact grant an extension until 31 January 2020.
Since that time, things have moved very rapidly in Westminster, and the Prime Minister has now managed to get a Bill through Parliament for a General Election, which will be taking place on 12 December 2019. As I have made clear on many occasions, and most recently in my Newsnight interview on Friday 24 October (see here – Roberta on Newsnight ) my preference was to have a deal agreed and amended if need be, a confirmatory referendum on the deal, and then a General Election, however we are now moving straight into a General Election.
As I have indicated before, I will not be standing again and so after the next election, I will no longer be the Member of Parliament for the City of Durham.