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Michael Gove statement to Parliament

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Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove addressed the House of Commons on 3rd September 2019.

Transcript:

Thank you very much Mr Speaker. This is the first time that I have appeared at the dispatch box since I moved on from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the superb team of civil servants at that department who do so much to improve the lives of so many across this country, and with your permission, I will make a statement about preparations for our departure from the European Union.

More than three years ago, in the biggest exercise in democracy in our country’s history, the British people voted to leave the EU. But so far this Parliament has failed to honour that instruction. Now our Prime Minister has made clear that we must leave by October 31st. And so we must. Trust in this House depends on it. Trust in our democracy depends on it.

Of course, this Government is determined to secure our departure with a good deal, one that paves the way for a bright future outside the single market and the customs union. And the response the Prime Minister has received from European leaders shows they are ready to move. They want a deal too. And they are moving because the Prime Minister has been clear that matters must be resolved by October 31, if we drift, then the incentive on them to deliver quickly will dissipate. So I hope my colleagues in the House of Commons will give the Prime Minister the time and space he needs to pursue the opening he has secured and get a deal we can all support.

But of course we must be prepared for every eventuality.

Queen Approves Order to Suspend Parliament

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At a meeting of the Privy Council held on the 28 August 2019 it was agreed by Her Majesty to approve an order to prorogue Parliament.

https://privycouncil.independent.gov.uk/orders/orders-in-council/

https://privycouncil.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Orders Approved (pdf)

The order reads:

“It is this day ordered by Her Majesty in Council that the Parliament be prorogued on a day no earlier than Monday the 9th day of September and no later than Thursday the 12th day of September 2019 to Monday the 14th day of October 2019, to be then holden for the despatch of divers urgent and important affairs, and that the Right Honourable the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain do cause a Commission to be prepared and issued in the usual manner for proroguing the Parliament accordingly.”

The order means that Parliament will be suspended just days after MPs return to work in September. This means in the weeks leading up to Brexit day, MPs will be forced away from the legislative chambers meaning they cannot debate the issue.

In an extraordinary statement, the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, has called the decision a “constitutional outrage“.

The Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, said:

“Suspending Parliament is not acceptable, it is not on. What the prime minister is doing is a smash and grab on our democracy to force through a no deal.”

Parliament to be suspended in September

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Parliament is to be suspended in the second week of September ahead of a Queen’s Speech on 14 October 2019.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/prime-minister-announces-plans-to-bring-forward-new-bold-and-ambitious-legislative-agenda

The Prime Minister has briefed Cabinet colleagues that the government will bring forward an ambitious new legislative programme for MPs’ approval, and that the current parliamentary session will be brought to an end.

The Prime Minister has spoken to Her Majesty The Queen to request an end to the current parliamentary session in the second sitting week in September. Following the conclusion of the traditional party conference season, the second session of this Parliament will commence with a Queen’s Speech on Monday 14 October.

A central feature of the legislative programme will be the Government’s number one legislative priority, if a new deal is forthcoming at European Council, to introduce a Withdrawal Agreement Bill and move at pace to secure its passage before 31 October.

The decision to end the current parliamentary session, the longest in close to 400 years and in recent months one of the least active, will enable the Prime Minister to put a fresh domestic programme in front of MPs for debate and scrutiny while also ensuring that there is good time before and after the European Council for Parliament to further consider Brexit issues. Votes on the Queen’s Speech are likely to fall on Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 October.

Through a Queen’s Speech, the government will seek to strengthen public services, improve infrastructure and connectivity across the country, tackle crime and enhance the integrity of the criminal justice system, while protecting our natural environment for the long-term.

The Prime Minister said:

We must focus on crucial public priorities, helping the NHS, fighting violent crime, investing in infrastructure and science and cutting the cost of living.

We have made an important start, funding for 20,000 extra police officers and new investment in our NHS, but to deliver on the public’s priorities we require a new session and a Queen’s Speech.

I believe it is vital that Parliament is sitting both before and after European Council and if, as I hope, a deal with the EU is forthcoming, Parliament will then have the opportunity to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill required for ratification ahead of 31 October.

The UK will not nominate a new Commissioner to the EU

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On the 23 August 2019, the UK announced that it will not nominate a new Commissioner to the EU as it prepares to leave on 31 October 2019.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/the-uk-will-not-nominate-a-new-commissioner-to-the-eu

The UK’s Permanent Representative to the EU Sir Tim Barrow has written to the EU to confirm that the UK will not be nominating a candidate for the 2019-2024 College of Commissioners. This delivers on the commitment that Prime Minister Boris Johnson made to the House of Commons on 25 July.

The Government has been clear that we are leaving the EU on 31 October whatever the circumstances. Given that the new Commission will not be taking up office until after we have left (1 November) we will not need a new Commissioner.

The Prime Minister was clear in his statement to the House of Commons that our decision not to appoint a new Commissioner should not prevent the EU from appointing a new Commission. This letter will enable the EU to proceed without a UK nominee.

Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the EU Steve Barclay said:

We are leaving the EU on 31 October. As a departing member state we will not be involved in the new Commission so it would be a distraction to nominate a new Commissioner.

This is part of the UK’s ongoing preparations for Brexit which allows us to focus on our future relationship with the EU while continuing to explore new opportunities with partners across the world.

Background:

  • All Member States have been invited to submit nominations for Commissioners by 26 August 2019.
  • The Prime Minister announced in the House of Commons on 25 July that the UK will not nominate a UK commissioner for the new Commission and this is not intended to stop the EU appointing a new Commission.
  • Sir Tim Barrow has written to the Secretary-General of the European Council and the Head of the Transition Team of European Commission President-elect to confirm this.
  • The letter also confirms that the UK is content for the European Council to proceed with the adoption of the list of candidates without a UK candidate.

A copy of the letter from the UK’s Permanent Representative to the EU, Tim Barrow, is enclosed:

Bjoern Seibert
Head of Transition Team

European Commission President-elect Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen Secretary-General
Council of the European Union

Dear Mr Seibert, Dear Secretary-General,

I refer to the request for Member States to submit letters of nomination for the College of Commissioners 2019-2024 by 26 August.

As the United Kingdom will be leaving the European Union on 31 October 2019, the Prime Minister announced in the House of Commons on 25 July that we would not nominate a UK Commissioner for the new Commission, and that this was not intended to stop the EU appointing a new Commission.

I am writing formally to confirm that, in accordance with the Prime Minister’s statement, the United Kingdom will not be nominating a candidate for the 2019-2024 College of Commissioners.

Furthermore, I am instructed to confirm that the United Kingdom will not object to the Council, in accordance with Article 17(7) of the Treaty on European Union and in agreement with the President-elect, adopting the list of the candidates for appointment as members of the Commission and communicating that list to the European Parliament. The United Kingdom remains ready to work constructively with you to ensure that the new College of Commissioners will be appointed in time to take up its mandate on 1 November.

I am copying this letter to Ilze Juhansone, Acting Secretary-General of the European Commission, and Marja Rislakki, Permanent Representative of Finland to the EU, for information.

TIM BARROW

Nomination of a Commissioner 230819 (pdf)

Press statement about UK attendance at EU meetings

A Press Statement released by the Department for Exiting the European Union on 20 August 2019 stated that UK officials will stop attending most EU meetings from 1 September 2019.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-officials-will-stop-attending-most-eu-meetings-from-1-september

UK officials will stop attending most EU meetings from 1 September so that they can focus on our future relationship with the EU and other partners around the world.

The Government has decided this week that from 1 September, UK officials and Ministers will now only attend EU meetings where the UK has a significant national interest in the outcome of discussions, such as on security.

This decision reflects the fact that the UK’s exit from the EU on 31 October is now very close and many of the discussions in EU meetings will be about the future of the Union after the UK has left.

As the PM has promised in the House of Commons in July, as a departing Member State it makes sense to “unshackle” officials from these EU meetings to enable them to better focus their talents on our immediate national priorities. This includes, as the top priority, work on preparations for Brexit on 31 October and on our future relationship with the EU, but also on pioneering new trade deals and promoting a truly Global Britain.

This decision is not intended in any way to frustrate the functioning of the EU. The UK’s vote will be delegated in a way that does not obstruct the ongoing business of the remaining 27 EU members.

Where matters of ongoing national interest are being discussed, the UK will continue to be present until 31 October.

Further details:

  • As a Member State the UK is allowed to send a representative to a variety of EU meetings. These representatives can be Government Ministers or officials.
  • The UK has decided that we do not need representation at all of these meetings, especially where the subject is the future of the EU after we have left.
  • The UK will continue to attend if and when it is in our interests, with particular regard to meetings on UK exit, sovereignty, international relations, security, or finance and the Prime Minister will attend European Council.
  • Decisions will be made on a case by case basis depending on the agendas of the meetings. This provides the right amount of flexibility to ensure UK interests remain protected.

Secretary of State Steve Barclay said:

An incredible amount of time and effort goes into EU meetings with attendance just the tip of the iceberg. Our diligent, world-class officials also spend many hours preparing for them whether in reading the necessary papers or working on briefings.

From now on we will only go to the meetings that really matter, reducing attendance by over half and saving hundreds of hours. This will free up time for Ministers and their officials to get on with preparing for our departure on October 31 and seizing the opportunities that lie ahead.

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