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[2nd day]

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 1:06 pm on 1st February 2017.

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Photo of George Osborne George Osborne Conservative, Tatton 1:06 pm, 1st February 2017

Edward Miliband speaks, as he always does, with passion for an international Britain and for European solutions to the many problems we face.

Democracy is easy to defend when we agree with the majority. In many other political systems, such as dictatorships, people can get their way, but democracy has the added advantage of legitimacy and popular consent. Democracy is much more difficult when we disagree with the majority. As people know, I argued passionately in the referendum that leaving the European Union would weaken Britain’s trade and commercial links, would diminish Britain on the world stage, would make international approaches to things such as climate change and atomic research more difficult and would weaken a multilateral institution—the European Union—that has been vital to our collective security for many decades.

I made those arguments, and it saddens me that Britain and Brexit are bracketed in the same group as other isolationist and nativist movements across the world. We should strive to be, as the Prime Minister says, a more global Britain. But I lost the case. I made it with passion, and I sacrificed my position in government for it.