I spoke for Labour’s frontbench yesterday in support of a cross-party Private Member’s Bill, tabled by my colleague Yvette Cooper and Conservative MP Oliver Letwin, which aimed to prevent the UK leaving the EU without a deal by requiring the Prime Minister to come to the House of Commons for approval to seek an extension to Article 50.
As an emergency move by Parliament, reflecting the seriousness of the Brexit crisis, we were in a very unusual situation of having all stages of the Bill in one day. This was after the House voted in favour of a Programme Motion that enabled us to do so, with the majority of MPs recognising the exceptional circumstances we find ourselves in.
Hilary Benn tabled an amendment to the Programme Motion that would have provided time for further indicative votes on Monday to give time for Parliament to explore further compromises, which we backed. Incredibly, this resulted in a tied vote, which required the Speaker to cast a deciding vote. As he explained, the convention, last used in 1993, is that important changes should only be agreed with a majority, so he voted against the amendment.
You can find the entire debate for the Bill here and here, including my speeches at Second Reading and Committee Stage. Below is a clip of my Second Reading speech, where I explained our support for the Bill to prevent us crashing out of the EU without a deal and to ensure Parliament has oversight of requests to extend Article 50. I also reiterated our support for a confirmatory public vote between a credible leave option and remaining in the EU.