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For me, this Bill is about just one thing—process. Like many other hon. Members, I began on a Brexit “road to Damascus” by advocating that Britain remain in the EU. That is not because I am a die-hard Europhile; it is because I am a pragmatist. I believe that, on balance, retaining EU membership was the safer option for Britain, both economically and socially. However, the collective majority of the British people, including the overwhelming majority of my constituents, disagreed with that view, and I accept that we now must leave.
The debate on the nuts and bolts of our exit deal are for another day, because this Bill is not about the substance. It is not about which laws to keep or abolish, or about our future trading relationships. It is not about how we share our security interests. Today, we are dealing with the mechanism that will enable us to begin having those discussions and debates, not only among ourselves here in this House, but, more importantly, with the other 27 member states. It comes down to the core question that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union posed yesterday in his opening speech:
“do we trust the people or not?”—[Official Report,
Vol. 620, c. 824.]
Although I have been quick to learn that we are often required to take some difficult and unpopular decisions as Members of Parliament, which can be contrary to the views expressed by some constituents, on this issue I choose to trust the people and so will vote accordingly this evening.