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[2nd day]

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:24 pm on 1st February 2017.

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Photo of Jeremy Lefroy Jeremy Lefroy Conservative, Stafford 5:24 pm, 1st February 2017

When the results came through on 24 June, I must admit that my emotion was one of great sadness, and it continued for some time. I was sad not just, as Daniel Zeichner has said, because of the economic consequences, potential or not—I believe that in the medium to long term, this country has a stable and prosperous economic future—but because of the divisions created between us and our European partners and allies, as well as the divisions in our own country. It is absolutely vital that we come together and rebuild the social capital that was lost.

We have to do that by building on the decision we will take tonight. Whether we know that a decision is right or wrong, we can ensure that the next decisions we take are the best possible decisions for our country and people. That demands that we involve all the peoples of the United Kingdom, whether they are from Northern Ireland, England, Scotland or Wales. It also demands that we immediately reassure European Union citizens in this country of their rights here, just as we would expect other EU countries to reassure our own citizens. That is a matter of moral decency.

It is important that we fight very hard to retain those institutions that are not, in effect, part of the European Union, which we are leaving, but that are vital, technically and in so many other ways, for our general wellbeing and the health of our economy. I am referring to institutions such as Euratom and the European Medicines Agency.

It is vital that we all work incredibly hard. We—certainly in my party—have put the country in this position; it is our duty to get out there and ensure that we have the best possible arrangements. That does not mean writing newspaper columns saying how wonderful it is; it means getting out there and doing the hard work, treating people with respect and building up those relationships that have been perhaps more than a little bruised over the past few months.

It is also vital that this place—not the Government or the European Parliament alone—have the sovereignty to make a decision about our future relationship with Europe. Finally, I hope that we will conduct the debates with honesty and clarity, not with bombast.