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[2nd day]

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:02 pm on 1st February 2017.

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Photo of Charlie Elphicke Charlie Elphicke Conservative, Dover 3:02 pm, 1st February 2017

For centuries Dover has had an important role as the gateway and guardian of the kingdom. During the referendum campaign, I was concerned about the potential impact on border security and cross-border co-operation and the potential impact on trade, because Dover is, in a very real sense, on the front line. I set out those concerns constituents, as well as my concerns about the medium-term risks to the economy that the former Chancellor, my right hon. Friend Mr Osborne, alluded to earlier.

The referendum followed a long and thorough debate. Whatever Members may think of its quality, there was a proper debate. People knew what they were voting for, and they made a clear decision. I, for one, will vote to respect the result.

The leader of the Liberal Democrats seems to think that it is all like “Hotel California”: you can check out, but you can never leave. I do not think that that is the right approach. Members of the Scottish National party think that there should be multiple referendums until one of them possibly produces the right result, but given their track record—losing the referendum on the alternative vote, losing the independence referendum and losing the European Union referendum—they are not doing too well. They might start to think that perhaps they ought to accept and respect a referendum result. I shall respect this result.

We need to be very clear about the red lines that we were given by the British people. My constituents have made very clear that, No. 1, there must be an end to unchecked EU migration, and, No. 2, there must be no more billions for bloated Brussels bureaucrats. That plainly indicates that we must leave the single market, and that if we want to do unfettered trade deals with the rest of the world, we must leave the customs union.

I make no bones about the fact that there will be a real impact on Dover, which is why I am working hard to make this a success. I have put together proposals on how we can restore border controls at Dover effectively, and I have convened a group to discuss how we can manage customs duties if we leave the European Union in two years, and how we can be ready on day one.

It is the job of the House, and the job of each and every one of its Members, not just to respect the result but to make it work for the good of the British people. We cannot be here hoping for doom, hoping for things to go wrong. We need to recognise that if things do go wrong, that will have an impact on the people whom we serve and represent. They will lose their jobs; they will lose their homes; they will be less well off. That is why I am making every effort to make this work, and why I implore everyone in the House to make it work and make a success of it. We must recognise that we shall have to leave the single market, recognise that we shall have to leave the customs union, and recognise that we shall have to be ready on day one.

We also need to recognise that there may not be a deal. We should work tirelessly, in good faith, for a deal, but it may be that no deal is immediately forthcoming—again, for the reason set out by my right hon. Friend for Tatton: that the mindset of our European colleagues is not currently conducive to a deal. That is why we must be ready on day one, and we must be ready for the fact that the EU may not wish to do a deal at that time. We should also bear it in mind that, as any deal-maker or negotiator will tell you, the best way to land a deal is to be prepared for no deal to take place. That is why we need to be ready for border controls, ready for customs duties, and ready for trade with the whole wide world, as well as being ready to do a positive deal and have positive engagement with the European Union in the years to come.

I implore the House to think and act constructively, to respect the result, and to look to the future of this nation believing that the best days are yet to come.