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I campaigned and voted to leave the EU, in line with the boroughs I represent, Bolton and Wigan, which voted overwhelmingly to leave. It was an incredibly important referendum, and I am a little disappointed sometimes to get the impression that people think we should never have had it. It was vital that we did. When there is a transfer of power, it is for the people to approve, even if retrospectively. It was for the people to approve the vast transfer of power from Westminster to Brussels. Otherwise, it would have been like the SNP taking Scotland out of the UK without a referendum, or the Liberal Democrats changing our voting system without the approval of the people. We had to have the referendum to approve the transfer of powers to the EU.
Dissatisfaction with the EU seemed to grow in proportion to the powers handed to it. Whether we wanted to remain or leave, we could all see that the referendum was vital. David Cameron, in his Bloomberg speech, set out a fantastic vision of EU reform, but every visit to Brussels or a European capital whittled away that vision until there was almost nothing left—and that was the proposal put to the British people: either we leave or we have this almost non-existent programme of reform. It now seems that there is a campaign to resurrect the Bloomberg vision through the soft Brexit that people keep talking about, but that was the vision already rejected by the EU.
During the campaign, there were problems and misleading information on both sides, but that £350 million figure for the NHS is overstated. In a general election, we look at the policies and the ideas developed over months and years. We look at the performance of the Government and we listen to the arguments of the Opposition. We have years to make up our minds at the general election, and the British people had 40 years to make up their minds about the EU. It was not about the last few weeks of the referendum campaign; it was about the lived experience in the EU. That is why the people rejected it. It was not because of a few debateable arguments on one side or another. I look forward this evening to voting for the Bill and supporting our leaving the EU.