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[2nd day]

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:36 pm on 1st February 2017.

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Photo of Jenny Chapman Jenny Chapman Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union) 6:36 pm, 1st February 2017

I want this Bill to proceed. Our amendments, which we will discuss next week, are all reasonable requests. Many Government Members have spoken in support of a parliamentary vote, and I appeal to all those who have spoken in that way, and who share our desire for a constructive and open process, to consider voting in support of our amendments next week.

We are an outward-looking, internationalist, pro-European party, and that will never, ever change. Let our determination to collaborate with, to stand alongside, and to work with our European partners never be in doubt. These are British values. The vote to leave the European Union, as well as leading to a changing mood in other countries, has deepened the sense that the values we hold most dear are under threat: tolerance, openness, co-operation, and solidarity. It is true that the rise of the far right in Europe and the rise of populism in the US have left many of us who believe in those values with an overwhelming sense that the political tide is against us—that xenophobia, fear and isolationism are drowning out our values of inclusion, hope and tolerance. It is more important than ever to stand firm beside those values. Bigotry, fanaticism and narrow-mindedness should have no place in our politics.

Very few Members of this House do not feel any trepidation whatsoever about the future. To deny the complexity—the risks to our manufacturing and service sectors, the disruption and uncertainty—that doubtless lies ahead is to hide from the truth: a truth that, if confronted honestly, can be dealt with and overcome. It is precisely because this process is so complex that we all need to contribute to resolving the issues we now confront. Pretending that these challenges do not exist is negligent.

The Labour party will not neglect its duty to challenge the Government when we think they are getting Brexit wrong. I say this to the Prime Minister: the best Brexit will never come via a cliff edge, however much some of her Back Benchers might wish it. This must be a deal worthy of the consent of this House. If she and her negotiators fail to achieve a deal worthy of our country, they will not achieve our consent. The Prime Minister must deliver the deal that she claims she can, with impediment-free trade, tariff-free trade, and a form of customs union membership allowing British businesses all the benefits they currently enjoy—a deal that delivers for British workers and British industry, and protects our safety and security.

That is a good starting point, but for the Labour party that aspiration is not enough. The Britain that the Labour party wants to build is confident of its place in the world. We want a Britain where, though outside the EU, we can protect British jobs by securing a deep trade deal with the EU. Let us remember that whatever deals we reach with other nations in the future, an agreement with our closest neighbours will always be the most important deal we do, where we protect British citizens by maintaining co-operation on justice and security, and protect British jobs by securing a good transitional deal.

The Labour party will use every means possible to bring about the best Brexit for Britain. We will fight for a future where business and industry thrive—especially, as my hon. Friends the Members for Batley and Spen (Tracy Brabin), for City of Durham (Dr Blackman-Woods), for Sedgefield (Phil Wilson) and for Wirral South (Alison McGovern) said, in our proud regions. We are the country of Brunel, Rosalind Franklin, Alan Turing, Michael Faraday, and Tim Peake. Our engineers, scientists, academics and creatives need to flourish in this workshop of the world. Labour will work to ensure that, after Brexit, our future as an ingenious, innovative, imaginative and inspiring nation grows and is never diminished.

The British people voted to take back control over their lives, and the Labour party understands the anger expressed through the vote to leave. Their reasons include low pay, lack of opportunity, insecure work, uncertain futures and a feeling of being remote from decision making in Brussels. To all who voted for those reasons, I say: we hear you. Labour will stand up throughout the Brexit negotiations for those who may have voted to leave but who did not vote to be poorer.

We will stand up, too, for those who voted to remain: 48% of voters cannot be marginalised or ignored. Many, although they accept the outcome of the referendum, do not see a prosperous future.