Select Committee Report Highlights That Government Failings Means We May Have No Choice But To Extend Article 50

Select Committee Report Highlights That Government Failings Means We May Have No Choice But To Extend Article 50, And Expresses Disappointment In The Attempt Made By Certain Members To Undermine The Collective Spirit Of The Committee

As the Committee on Exiting the European Union publishes its latest report calling on the government to explore and explain its plan for extending Article 50 in the event that a deal is not secured in time for March 2019, Stephen Kinnock, Member of Parliament for Aberavon and member of the Select Committee:

  • Calls out the government for their failure to have a clear and settled position on Brexit, which has led to a vacuum
  • Agrees that government failure to secure the right deal means that there will probably be no option but to seek extension of Article 50
  • Regrets the ‘spoiler’ attempt made by some committee members

Commenting on the Select Committee report, Stephen Kinnock said:

“This report makes clear the grave concern that Parliament and the Committee have about the ability of the government to successfully conclude a Withdrawal Agreement in the time available, ie before submitting it to the ‘meaningful vote’ in our Parliament in October.

“The government not only shot itself in the foot, but it is holding a gun to all of our heads by having embarked on Brexit negotiations before coming up with a plan. 

“That is why we need a plan B to give us sufficient time to negotiate a Brexit that works for Britain, which is why the Committee are calling on the government to make clear that they have a plan for extending the Article 50 process, if that is what is required for us to secure the right deal, in the national interest.

“Having gathered evidence from a range of expert witnesses, the Committee has come to the conclusion that there is a real risk of a deal not being complete by the Autumn. Missing this deadline makes ratification impossible, and therefore means that the country risks the car crash of a no deal Brexit. 

“We know from the Brexit impact report, a report that the government attempted to suppress but the Committee voted unanimously to publish, that a no-deal Brexit would mean an 8% economic hit, with twice that for some parts of the country, particularly those that voted to Leave like the North East and Wales.

“What’s more, we know that a no-deal Brexit is simply not practical. There is no way that customs procedures could be in place in time, meaning we would be unable to maintain the security of our border, or comply with our international obligations. Unprecedented chaos at the port of Dover would ensue.

“Faced with this cliff edge, the Committee have concluded that we would have no option but to extend Article 50, giving us the time we need to secure the right deal. The government must, therefore, urgently devise a plan for seeking and securing an Article 50 extension.

“The report also regrets the vacuum left by that very same indecisiveness that means we have no choice but to investigate the possibility of extending Article 50. Most notable, before the turn of the year the Commission come forward with proposals for the governance of the transition period, but in the absence of any engagement or response from the government, the EU reverted to the status quo, only without any British voice.

“So let us be clear, it is the failure of this government and the vacuum that it has created which led us to the point of having no choice but to accept a so called ‘vassal state’ transition, and it is that very same vacuum that means we must have the option of extending the Article 50 process because we have grave doubts about the government’s ability to deliver a satisfactory deal on time.

“Regrettably certain members of the Committee then took the extraordinary step of submitting their own alternative report, at the eleventh hour. It is surprising and disappointing that they chose not to work within the collective spirit of the Select Committee process.

“Whilst I disagree profoundly with the views of some committee members on Brexit, I had until Tuesday morning enjoyed the sense of cross-party co-operation around processes and procedures, without which select committees cannot function effectively. But the tabling of an alternative report ten minutes before the start of the committee’s formal consideration of the Chair’s report was an underhand and discourteous move, no more and no less.