Anne Main speaks in debate on the Prime Minister’s statement on leaving the EU

14th February 2019

Speaking in the debate on the Prime Minister’s statement on leaving the EU, Anne Main seeks confirmation from the Opposition on whether they are supporting extending aritlcle 50 or calling for a second referendum.

I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman so much for giving way—I was beginning to think I had an invisibility cloak on. Just over a week ago there was a debate on a petition about extending article 50, which was signed by more than 100,000 members of the public. I spoke in that debate, which was sparsely attended, but I did not hear from the shadow Front Bencher that Labour policy is to extend article 50. Indeed, some speakers made it sound as if Labour policy was to have a people’s vote. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman confirm what Labour is arguing for?

I am sure the question of policy is important, but I am facing the practical reality. We are 43 days away from 29 March, and no credible alternative is in sight. Either we accept that or we do not. The Prime Minister keeps coming back and giving a non-update: “I’m meeting people”—she does not say she has agreed anything—“can I have another two weeks?” We have been going on like that for weeks, and it must stop.



Anne Main asks about the amendment calling for the publication of the most recent Cabinet briefing documents on the implications of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

My right hon. Friend is being very informative. Is she prepared to tell us whether she has seen the papers or who is giving her this information? She is talking with great authority, so are we supposed to take her at her word that she is in the know?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for her intervention. I hope that she will take me at my word. Although the things I say in this place are often not agreed with, I do not make things up. I have asked both the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy about the papers, and it has never been denied that they exist, that they have been debated in Cabinet or that some Cabinet members believe that they should be published.

I gently suggest to my hon. Friend that the papers might assist her. I believe that she asked a question of a Minister about the need for us to get on with Brexit—I do not demur from her point on that—and get on with the trade deals so that businesses in her constituency can get on and trade with other countries. Perhaps if she saw the papers, she might know that businesses the length and breadth of our country already trade across the world. Businesses do not need a trade deal to do business and to trade. A deal enables us to do that business and that trade all the better. Perhaps it really is a very good idea that this place sees these papers, so that those hon. Members who are actually saying, as members of the Conservative party—the party of business—that it would be the right and responsible thing for this country to leave the European Union without a deal might be better informed as to the consequences.



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