Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

[2nd day]

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 2:36 pm on 1st February 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Conservative, Wimbledon 2:36 pm, 1st February 2017

I do not know if my hon. Friend heard me, but I said that I would certainly be respecting the result of the referendum. We have had those debates in Parliament, but what is crucial is where we go from here. What the people did not say to us in the referendum was how, or on what terms, we would leave. I believe that the best way to decide those issues, and to mitigate the impact of uncertainty, is for the Government to keep Parliament updated as much as possible throughout the negotiations and allow this House to have a meaningful input on those negotiations. Like my right hon. Friend Nicky Morgan, I absolutely welcome the publication of the White Paper tomorrow. I hope the Bill will build on the Prime Minister’s speech and create some certainty.

I believe it is also in the Government’s best interests to have the fullest possible involvement of Parliament. I believe that that will help our negotiating position. Our negotiations will carry much greater weight with the EU 27 if it is clear that our negotiating stance has the backing of this House. Among all the talk of sovereignty and the hope of trade deals, we must not forget the effect of this process on individuals—our constituents. Many of the people who live in Wimbledon are EU citizens. I hope that the Government will find a very early resolution to guarantee the rights of those people who may not be British citizens. Many of them are my constituents.

I have said several times, in the debates to which Andrea Jenkyns referred, that uncertainty is a key concern for industry and financial services. The financial services sector is vital for London’s success. It employs 2 million people and is our biggest tax generating sector—I do not need to go on. We should therefore strive for a deal that has financial services at its heart, including equivalence and mutual recognition. Equally, as my hon. Friend Mr Streeter said, the negotiations will be complex, so we need to guarantee certainty through a proper transitional process where everybody can adjust to the new rules without sudden shock. That can be achieved, and I hope the Front-Bench team will clarify that it is at the heart of their ambitions.

The Bill gives the UK the ability to trigger article 50, and almost everybody in the Chamber will vote for it tonight. I am pleased that the Prime Minister has promised Parliament a vote on the final deal, but it needs to be clarified at what stage in the process that will take place and that all information will be given to Parliament. It also needs to be clear that Parliament will be able to vote if the Government seek to withdraw from the EU without a deal. I hope that the Secretary of State will commit, if the Government believe that no deal is achievable, to coming back to Parliament with all the options placed before us. If the vote is after the agreement of the treaty but prior to ratification, as is the current legal position, it will probably be too late and therefore meaningless.

In my view, therefore, the vote must occur before the Government conclude the agreement. If anyone has read article 50, they will know that that is what will happen in the European Parliament. Are we suggesting that the European Parliament should be more sovereign than this Parliament? I think not. If the deal needs the consent of the European Parliament, it should need the consent of this Parliament as well. As Churchill said of the Battle of Britain, the Bill is the end of the beginning, but it also gives the House the chance to show our constituents that we can come together, heal divisions and find the best deal for this country.