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[2nd day]

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:41 pm on 1st February 2017.

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Photo of Tom Elliott Tom Elliott UUP, Fermanagh and South Tyrone 3:41 pm, 1st February 2017

I welcome this debate, which has in general been a good one, both today and yesterday, with people speaking from the heart and honestly giving the facts as they see them. This is a historic decision that we are taking in Parliament, but let us not forget that the decision has already been delivered by the people of the United Kingdom. We gave them the opportunity to have their say and they have had it; it was not, as was said earlier, an act of madness of this House. I deplore that suggestion, as this decision was delivered by the people and we must respect it, although people can have their views in here, and I respect those, too.

My constituency is right out in the west of the UK and is bordered by four counties in the Republic of Ireland. We therefore need to have flexibility, but let us move on and get that. Let us have that common travel area and an open border—one that is as open as possible—so that we can have good friendships with the EU when we leave it. We are not leaving Europe; we in Northern Ireland are just as good Europeans as anybody. Our ancestors went to fight for Europe, just as our colleagues from Scotland, England, Wales and many other Commonwealth countries did. We went to help those Europeans, and we still want that common relationship. The people have delivered a decision for us, and it is more important now that we look to how we make the best of that decision. We need to get the best for all of our constituents—for the people of the United Kingdom—and the only way to do that is by working in harmony, as far as is reasonably possible.