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Urgent question on Article 50 extension following EU summit

22 March 2019 (updated on 22 March 2019)

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Shadow Brexit Minister Matthew Pennycook has asked an urgent question following the European Council's decision last night to extend the Article 50 period.

Article 50 of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty sets out how a member state leaves the European Union, with a two year period between the member state "triggering" the Article and the day that the state leaves the Union.

The UK Government triggered Article 50 on 29 March 2017 so was due to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019. Last night however, EU leaders at the European Council agreed to delay exit until 22 May if the House of Commons approves the negotiated Withdrawal Agreement in a 'meaningful vote' (the Government has already lost two 'meaningful votes').

If there is no agreement, there will be a shorter delay until 12 April, during with time the European Council "expects the United Kingdom to indicate a way forward before this date for consideration by the European Council".

Responding on behalf of the Government, Kwasi Kwarteng told the House:

"If Parliament does not accept the withdrawal agreement next week, Article 50 will be extended until 12 April."

He went on to say that any extension beyond 22 May would require the UK to participate in EU elections, and in the view of the Prime Minister, this was "quite wrong".

Matthew Pennycook further pressed the Government, describing the Government's handling of the process as "absolutely abysmal". He asked what day the next meaningful vote would be and how the Government intended to comply with the Speaker's ruling on Monday 18 March.  

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