Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland, has today warned the Prime Minister that, with seven of the Prime Minister’s 14 Brexit Bills still to go through Parliament, she is inevitably going to have to extend Article 50.
Speaking in the chamber, Mr. Carmichael said:
“If the Prime Minister is serious about meeting the 29 March deadline, will she allow this house to get on and do what it is here to do, instead of filling our time with General Debates and Statutory Instruments. If we are coming back next week instead of recess, will we deal with the Agriculture Bill, the Fisheries Bill, the Immigration Bill, the Financial Services Bill, the Healthcare Bill, or will we ever see the withdrawal agreement bill. Mr. Speaker, if we are to leave on the 29th of March, these matters will all have to be dealt with both here, and in the House of Lords. Why does the Prime Minister not just accept what is obvious to the rest of the world, and start the process for an orderly extension of the Article 50 period.”
The Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP, answered:
“I say to the Rt. Hon. Gentleman that the Immigration Bill is in committee today, so work is being done on the immigration bill. Yes, it is in committee because that is the normal procedure of the House of Commons, having had a second reading it goes to Committee. Can I also say to the Rt. Hon. Gentleman that next week there will, indeed, be many Statutory Instruments that relate to Brexit, that are important preparations for this house to make. He talks about bringing forward a withdrawal agreement Bill. We can’t have a withdrawal agreement bill until we have a withdrawal agreement. So I assume if he wants the bill, he is going to be supporting the withdrawal agreement.”
Speaking after the exchange, Mr. Carmichael added:
“After over 20 years as a Member of Parliament, you might hope that Prime Minister would have a better understanding of how Parliament works than she demonstrated today. We have a long list of legislation to deal with and the Government keeps on failing to tackle it.
“The Prime Minister has been playing a strategy of running down the clock, hoping to force MPs into backing her deal, but the only person she has succeeded in backing into a corner is herself.
“It is obvious that she has no choice but to delay her Brexit process, and without the support of the Commons, she must put her deal back to the country in a people’s vote. It is the only way to break the current stalemate.”