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[2nd day]

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:58 pm on 1st February 2017.

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Photo of Daniel Zeichner Daniel Zeichner Shadow Minister (Transport) 3:58 pm, 1st February 2017

No, I do not agree. I think our continent is much more united than when it was at war.

How quickly we have forgotten just how this was achieved. At this of all times, when the world is such an uncertain place, this is not the moment to turn away from our European home, and to take a huge gamble on getting a deal with the most reckless and unreliable American President any of us have known.

There is much more that I would like to say about Cambridge and the threat to our universities and to our research institutes. I associate myself with many of the comments that have been made by my hon. Friends. I am particularly concerned about the 9,000 non-UK EU nationals in and around Cambridge whose future is so uncertain and whose future could have been assured if the Government had moved more swiftly, and the damage that it will do to our country if those people start to leave. The effect that that will have on our university and research sector troubles me a lot.

Last week, out of the blue, as we have heard, the Government announced that they want to pull out of the European nuclear agency, Euratom. This appeared to happen without discussion or consultation with the industry, and without thought to the wider consequences.

There are so many other things to say about the threats to our environmental protections, to our rights at work, to our data and privacy rights, and to our world-leading life sciences sector—but I return to my starting point. Three quarters of people in Cambridge voted to remain. I came into Parliament to represent their views. They put their trust in me, and I will not betray that trust. There is a real risk that the Government will lead a retreat to turn Britain into an isolated island. The United States is building a wall. At such a time, we must be brave and go on making the case that retreat, isolation and walls do not a modern world make. The European Union is far from perfect, but we should be working to make it better, not weakening it at a dangerous time.