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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

Absolutely. I completely agree with my hon. Friend. This will not be an easy decision for Labour, but, at the end of the day, a contract was made and that should be respected.

May I, very gently, point a finger at Scottish National party Members? For all their talk about wishing to remain in the EU, the bottom line is that had they won their independence referendum, they would have left the EU. The EU made that very clear. What is more, there was no automatic right of re-entry, and they would have had to take on the euro in that process. For all the talk about being good Europeans, if it had been left to them, Scotland would have left the EU.

In the time that is allowed, let me point out a few more inconvenient truths. I have heard it said many times on the Opposition Benches that we will become a more intolerant country. Immigration has been raised by several speakers with regard to our leaving the EU. I suggest to them that, by leaving the EU, we will no longer discriminate against the rest of the world, which the present immigration policy does. The SNP in particular may not like it, but it is a fact that we cannot stop anybody coming in from Europe, but that we do stop the rest of the world coming into the UK, because no country in the western world has a non-existent immigration policy. For all the talk on the Opposition Benches, by leaving the EU, whatever criteria we choose to guide our immigration policy, it will be fair to the whole world, not just to a particular region. No region will be discriminated against, and that is the point. Whatever the criteria, there will be fairness. No one will be discriminated against based on where they come from.

There is a further inconvenient truth that has hardly been touched on in the debate. Hon. Members suggest that we will suddenly become an economic backwater by leaving the EU. From looking at growth rates across the western world, I can assure the House that the EU remains in the global economic slow lane, with shamefully high youth unemployment rates to match. There is a world out there growing much faster than the EU. We need to embrace that future.

I very much look forward to our winning the vote tonight. I ask the Prime Minister to do what she can to negotiate as good a deal as she can, but not to be afraid to fall back on World Trade Organisation rules if a bad deal is on the table. There is a very bright future ahead of us.