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[2nd day]

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:29 pm on 1st February 2017.

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Photo of John Baron John Baron Chair, Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee 6:29 pm, 1st February 2017

Ours is a representative democracy—in fact I would go so far as to say a great representative democracy. The reason why this place will, and should, support the article 50 Bill is that, before the referendum, we made a contract with the British people that this place would abide by the result. I ask all Members who are thinking of voting against Second Reading to give that due regard. It was a commitment made by the Government, and agreed to by many on the Opposition Benches.

I very much look forward to supporting article 50 tonight, and then, following negotiations of up to two years, the Prime Minister getting as good a deal as possible. If this place says that it is not a good deal, World Trade Organisation rules hold no fear for many of us on these Benches. No deal is better than a bad deal.

May I now focus on a couple of inconvenient truths? To those on the Labour Benches, I suggest that all the talk of parliamentary democracy and scrutiny is fine, but, to those who were here in 2008, I have to say that I do not remember too much scrutiny when the Government of the day passed the Lisbon treaty. It was done very quickly. In fact, the Prime Minister of the day was not even present in the debate. Therefore, for all the talk of parliamentary scrutiny, we sacrificed large chunks of our sovereignty that day, and it is a great shame that Labour Members are now suggesting that they are the guardians of parliamentary democracy, when they were pretty thin on the ground when it came to the Lisbon treaty.