I did not intend to speak in this debate, but Mr Winnick would not let me intervene to respond to the question he posed. I have, in fact, received emails from constituents over the past few weeks asking me to encourage the Prime Minister to call a general election and go to the country once again. The hon. Gentleman seemed to imply that nobody in the country was asking for a general election, but some of my constituents were.
When the Prime Minister made her announcement yesterday, I was initially in shock because, like my right hon. Friend Sir Desmond Swayne, I was boldly telling people that there was no chance of a general election. I was not quite so bold as to put it in the local paper, but I told people both verbally and in emails that I did not believe it would happen. Having listened to the Prime Minister’s reasons yesterday, I am happy to say that I have come to a position where I believe it is right for the country that we obtain a new mandate to go into the negotiations to leave the EU and put the Prime Minister, and the others who will be negotiating our terms, in the strongest possible position.
I am happy to stand on the Government’s record of delivering for this country. The election is not just about the Brexit negotiations; it is about a Government who have delivered growth, one of the world’s best performing economies, record numbers of jobs and great investment in our NHS. I am proud to go to the country and say, “Let us continue with the job we are doing to deliver what our country needs and to continue putting us in the strongest possible position.”
Finally, we take nothing for granted, but if the Conservative party is returned to government with a substantially increased majority, will the leader of the Liberal Democrats accept that it is the will of the British people to return the Conservative party with a clear mandate to press on and take us out of the European Union on the grounds that the Prime Minister has set out? Will he then drop his opposition and game playing to thwart the democratic will of the British people?