EU Withdrawal Bill: Geoffrey Cox QC MP debates EU exit date

14th November 2017

Speaking in the House of Commons on the first day of the historic EU Withdrawal Bill debate, Geoffrey Cox told the House;

My hon. Friend knows that I share his fundamental beliefs about the need for us to leave the European Union, but is there not merit in the suggestion of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve) that we need not have a fixed date? After all, our own negotiators might wish to have an extension; this is curtailing the flexibility and room for manoeuvre of our own negotiators. My right hon. and learned Friend has proposed an ingenious and commendable solution: that we write into the Bill the date, but we create exceptions for circumstances in which the negotiators might need it. I urge my hon. Friend, and all my hon. Friends who share my view on the EU, to reflect carefully on the suggestion made by my right hon. and learned Friend; it is a commendable one and it requires careful reflection.

I am still seized of the truth that if we beg the EU to extend the time because it has run us up against the timetable—after all, it is the EU that is refusing to negotiate on the substantive issues at the moment, not us—that is the position and responsibility it must face. We should be clear and strong that if the EU does not reach an agreement with us by a certain date, we are leaving without a deal. That would put us in a stronger negotiating position than ever.

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