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[1st Day]

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 4:57 pm on 21st June 2017.

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Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Father of the House of Commons 4:57 pm, 21st June 2017

I agree entirely with my right hon. Friend. We live in a celebrity culture where the referendum was essentially the Boris and Dave show, with very little serious content. The general election had a lot of slogans, and billions of pounds were going to be spent on everything that emerged as a problem, but it was remarkably bereft of policy discussion in the media—that approach is seen not just in Parliament—and in debate. That is a wider issue: in the politics of Nottinghamshire we try to keep up standards, but in the House we need to return to treating these things seriously.

Briefly, because I have taken far longer than I intended, we have to approach this on a cross-party basis. Both the major parties are hopelessly split on the issue. We have just demonstrated that, and the Labour party is equally split. The idea that we will continue in power by getting my right hon. Friends and me to agree on some compromise, subject to a veto on every significant vote to be exercised by the Democratic Unionists, which will give us a small majority in the House, is not the way to have a strong mandate for the Brexit negotiations that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was seeking in the election.