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[2nd day]

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 1:49 pm on 1st February 2017.

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Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Leader of the Liberal Democrats 1:49 pm, 1st February 2017

I will not take any more interventions because other people need to get in.

Here is the likelihood: 48% of the people will not like the outcome of the deal, and half of the 52% will feel that they were betrayed by the outcome of the deal. The only way to achieve democracy and closure is for there to be a vote at the end.

The fact is that the Prime Minister is the one making the strongest case for giving people a vote on the deal. She had the choice to pursue a form of Brexit that united our country, reflected the closeness of the vote, and sought to heal the divisions between leave and remain. Instead she chose to pursue the hardest, most divisive form of Brexit, which tears us out of the single market and leaves us isolated against the might of world superpowers. Never mind that six months ago she herself argued the case for remaining in the EU. Never mind that numerous leave campaigners championed the Norway and Swiss models and spent the referendum campaign assuring voters that we would not leave the single market. Never mind that 48% of people—16 million British people—wanted to stay in the EU. Never mind that Britain’s young people, who have more of a stake in our country than most of us here, voted three to one to remain.

The Prime Minister has made her choice—fine; she has chosen hard Brexit—but if she is so confident that what she is planning is what people voted for, she must give them a vote on the final deal. What started with democracy must not end with a Government stitch-up. When all is said and done, the decision on whether the deal the Prime Minister negotiates is good enough will be decided by someone; someone will make that decision. Should it be the Prime Minister, should it be those privileged to be here, or should it be the British people who have to live with that decision? I say that it should be put to the people in a referendum. That is why the Liberal Democrats are fighting for the British people to have the final vote on the deal that this Government negotiates. Democracy means accepting the will of the people, at the beginning of the process and the end of the process. Democracy means respecting the majority, and democracy means not giving up your beliefs when the going gets tough.