The majority of the UK electorate voted to leave the EU and I believe that I have a democratic duty to deliver the result. This means that the UK will be leaving the EU in March 2019 and the EU (Withdrawal) Bill will help to ensure that this happens. My ministerial colleagues are working towards securing a withdrawal agreement with the EU and I am confident that this will be achieved.
The Government has said that a vote will be held in both Houses of Parliament as soon as possible after the negotiations have ended. If MPs and Peers vote in favour of the deal, it will then be put into UK law where they will again be able to debate what has been agreed. The Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 also makes clear that if Parliament resolves against a treaty it cannot be ratified by the Government.
In the unlikely situation that an agreement is not reached or Parliament votes to reject it, the UK will leave without a deal. The Government is prudently preparing for all outcomes and it has given nearly £700 million to departments to prepare for the UK's exit from the EU as well as a further £3 billion over the next two years.
EU law sets out that the withdrawing member state leaves the EU two years after notification of Article 50. Unilaterally extending the negotiating period is not in the power of the UK Government. For these reasons, I did not support New Clause 11 to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.