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[2nd day]

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:50 pm on 1st February 2017.

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Photo of Antoinette Sandbach Antoinette Sandbach Conservative, Eddisbury 4:50 pm, 1st February 2017

My constituents have a great deal of common sense. They are intelligent and thoughtful, and they go about their lives with incredible diligence. When people wrote to me to say that they did not understand what they were voting for, I did not believe it, because I know my constituents and I trust in them. We trust in our constituents enough to put them on juries, and I trust in mine enough to make a decision when they are exercising their vote.

I, too, argued for remain. I believed the Prime Minister when he said he would go to Europe and seek to negotiate a better deal for Britain. He went out there in good faith and he played those negotiations with a straight bat. Unfortunately—to paraphrase another speaker—he found out when he came back here to stand at the crease that his bat had been broken, his shoes had been nicked and his stumps had been hidden. He was hampered by Europe’s failure to recognise that it needed reform and that it needed to deal with the crucial issue of free movement. That failure to recognise the concerns that he was raising on behalf of Britain bears a great deal of responsibility for the outcome of the vote. I was deeply concerned when I heard Mr Clegg say yesterday that he had it on great authority that the Germans had offered a deal involving an emergency brake after the referendum. If that was indeed on the table and people were willing to sign up to it, it would have been far too late to do it afterwards without it having drastic consequences for this country.

I very much welcome the approach being taken by the Prime Minister. I welcome the fact that she wants to reach out globally, and that we will still be members of Europe even if we are no longer members of the European Union institutions. It is vital that we build on those links and continue to look outwards. We must work on co-operation in crime, terrorism and national security, and we must negotiate the best possible deal for our economy. My constituents knew that there was a risk to the economy. That was explained to them very seriously. The point was made yesterday that the risks were understood and accepted by the British electorate when they voted to leave, and I think we have to respect that decision. I will work hard to deliver the best outcome for my constituents.