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[1st Day]

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 5:58 pm on 21st June 2017.

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Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Conservative, Beaconsfield 5:58 pm, 21st June 2017

As I have said before, I see no sign that public opinion on Brexit has changed. I have no idea whether it will change in the future, but we have to proceed on the basis that we have to honour the commitment to take ourselves out of the EU. I am committed to supporting the Government in doing that. The question is how we go about it and how, within this House, we succeed in co-operating with each other—or not—to bring it about.

In my view, everything else in politics is subordinate to this issue, because most of the other legitimate issues that are being aired in this Queen’s Speech debate, whether it be social policy, housing, health and safety issues—a subject I know a bit about because I used to prosecute for the Health and Safety Executive—and what may be going wrong in that domain, whether it is fire regulations or anything else, are incapable of being fully addressed until we sort out this key matter. Ultimately, it will be toxic to our political system if we do not come up with the right answers. What I picked up in the election was how the mounting frustration with politics and politicians as a class continues to grow, precisely because we cannot produce that coherent response.

I am sorry to have to say this to those on the Labour Front Bench, but I listened to John McDonnell talking about rage. People are entitled to be angry about lots of things, but I thought that one of the things that we were, in part, deriving from the murder of Jo Cox was that anger followed by rage is usually the precondition to violence. That is something we have seen in this country not just in her murder but in other incidents. Yet we are now reduced to a position where Labour Front Benchers apparently see rage as a key thing to introduce to politics. How will we reach consensual agreements on key subjects concerning this country’s future if we are mired in that sort of rhetoric?

I do not want to take up more of the House’s time, but I simply want to say that I wish the Government well in what they are trying to do on Brexit. I will give them my support—not unqualified, but I will try as a Back Bencher to be helpfully critical. I appreciate that we are going, and I want to work with other Members to try to achieve a sensible outcome that does not damage our economic wellbeing and national security, both of which are at risk. I then want us to be able to start focusing on the issues that matter very much to people in how their daily lives are shaped. We are blessed in this country in that on the whole, despite our mistakes, we succeed in managing fairly competent government—that applies as much to Members on the Opposition Benches as to ourselves. Frankly, if we do not get this right, we will be in very serious trouble. The question is how Parliament goes about ensuring that we come to the right outcome.