Government questioned about proposed changes to Withdrawal Agreement

An EU flag and a British flag folded diagonally to make one flag
07 October 2019

Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Keir Starmer, asked an urgent question to The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, James Duddridge, on the Withdrawal Agreement.

In light of the proposed change to the Withdrawal Agreement and replacement of the Northern Irish backstop that was announced last week by the Prime Minister, Keir Starmer MP asked the Government when the full text of the proposal would be made available.

James Duddridge MP told MPs that the Commons would be kept informed, but that the text need to be kept confidential in order to increase the chance of a successful negotiation with the EU. He continued: 

"The legal text which we have shared with the Commission will only be published when doing so will assist the negotiations. We hope that Brussels will decide to work with us over the upcoming days. If they do we will leave with a new deal. If they don't want to talk, we are prepared to leave without a deal. We need to get a new deal or a deal but no more delays. We must get Brexit done so the country can move forward and focus on other issues such as the cost of living, the NHS and other domestic priorities."

Responding on behalf of the Opposition, the Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union emphasised the need to see the updated Withdrawal Agreement in its entirety, stressing that this was the only way to understand whether or not the replacement to the backstop will amount to a hard border. He went on to say:

"The Government has presented the EU with a 44 page legal text, a seven page memorandum and a four page letter. In this House we've seen the memorandum and the letter but not the full legal text. And frankly that's not good enough, because without the full legal text we're being asked to guess what the detail of the Government's proposals actually are. Or worse, we're being asked to take the Prime Minister's word on it."

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