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 3:20 pm on 1st February 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of James Cleverly James Cleverly Conservative, Braintree 3:20 pm, 1st February 2017

I am in an easy position: I have an easy decision to make—in fact I have no decision to make. I campaigned and voted for Brexit, as did my constituency and the United Kingdom, so I am not torn on what to do this evening. However I will not demand that hon. Members vote a certain way, or even suggest how they should vote, because each one of us has a unique combination of local constituency pressures, and I cannot look into the heart of other Members of this House to see where those pressures sit, so I will not call on anyone to vote one way or another. Instead, I will reflect on the implications of the Brexit vote for all of us, irrespective of our political position and how we choose to vote in the Divisions this evening and in Committee next week.

Brexit provides us with an opportunity, but it also exerts upon us an external discipline; discipline guides our actions and decisions, and also encourages us to do what is difficult but right. The discipline that Brexit imposes on us is to listen very carefully to people in Britain who clearly feel that they have not been listened to up until this point. It is very easy for us to project our own prejudices on to why people voted the way they did, and we all do it. We have seen those who voted for Brexit projecting base motivations on to those who will vote in alignment with their constituents, but we would be wrong to do that. However, we also have to understand why some communities in Britain are concerned about their standard of living, migration and globalisation, and we have to respond to those concerns. Also, we Government Members have to understand that at some point we will need to explain why we are, perhaps, prioritising certain markets and business sectors in our negotiations above others. We will need to explain the value that international migration brings to the British economy, and perhaps why immigration will not suddenly stop overnight, the day after we leave the EU.