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[2nd day]

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:14 pm on 1st February 2017.

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Photo of Rushanara Ali Rushanara Ali Labour, Bethnal Green and Bow 5:14 pm, 1st February 2017

It is an honour to speak in such a historic debate. As a passionate pro-European, a proud Londoner and the MP for a constituency where almost 70% of the electorate voted to remain, and given my background—Britain was a welcoming home to me and my family—it goes without saying that I wish I did not have to vote on this Bill. The decision to trigger article 50 and leave the European Union cannot be stopped once it begins. There is no turning back.

I do not agree with the Prime Minister’s plan to take us out of the single market and the customs union, because the effects will be dangerous and devastating to our economy. That is well understood and well documented where it concerns the City of London and Canary Wharf, which my constituency borders. Some 70,000 to 100,000 jobs—not just financiers at the top end of the institutions, but receptionists, caterers and all the people who serve the City and Canary Wharf—are at risk. The sector contributes more than 2 million jobs to the country and some 12% of taxation revenue for public expenditure, so it is really important that we do not throw the baby out with the bathwater, to which the plan to leave the single market will effectively lead.

Our hard-won rights for workers and women, and our protections for human rights, are seen and admired all over the world. We are putting those things and investment in our public services at risk. The decision will cost dearly, and will be deeply problematic and damaging to our economy. Some 44% of our exports are to the EU. The head of the World Trade Organisation even indicated that if we leave and end up on WTO terms, UK consumers will lose some £9 billion.

It is because of the damage that this change and the move away from the single market will do to my constituents, to our country’s economy and to our rights that I cannot support triggering article 50. It is not in our interest as a country that is supposed to be outward-looking and internationalist, nor in the interest of future generations.