2nd Day

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:14 pm on 11th September 2017.

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Photo of Jack Brereton Jack Brereton Conservative, Stoke-on-Trent South 9:14 pm, 11th September 2017

Stoke-on-Trent voted overwhelmingly to leave the European Union: the proportion was higher than in any other city, with 70% of people voting to leave. That is why I will vote to support the Bill tonight.

The people of Stoke-on-Trent South voted for me and the Conservatives for the first time in 82 years because we demonstrated our trust in the public’s judgment in voting to leave and are the only ones with a strong, credible plan to deliver Brexit successfully. In electing me to this place, my constituents were clear in their rejection of the previous Labour MP and his attempts to disrupt and delay the Brexit process. My constituents who voted to leave in the referendum did so for a number of reasons, including economic, social and political ones, but the clear shared message from the general election was that constituents in Stoke-on-Trent South do not want to be worse off as a result of our leaving the EU. There is a feeling in Stoke-on-Trent of being left behind, with the EU remote and distant. People struggle to see the economic benefits. I am determined to be a strong representative of what my constituents voted for.

In leaving the EU, we must maximise new opportunities in Stoke-on-Trent and support our businesses to improve skills and jobs and boost prosperity. Critical to that is ensuring that we make a success of leaving. We must create some certainty and get on with putting forward the necessary legislation. What I hear from businesses in Stoke-on-Trent South is a need for certainty. The Bill will create an orderly processes to move the existing EU legislation that makes up part of the UK legal system so that it is under Parliament’s authority. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said on Thursday, it will ensure that on the day we leave, businesses will know where they stand, workers’ rights will be upheld and consumers will remain protected.

To delay or disrupt the process unnecessarily would be hugely damaging for our economy, businesses and jobs in all communities throughout the country. To those in the House who wish to disrupt the Bill today, or even to stop altogether the process of our leaving the EU, I repeat what several of my right hon. and hon. Friends have said: there will be further opportunities to improve the Bill in Committee. Suggestions about the need for amendments should not stop the Bill at this stage. I ask them to think of the impact on their constituents and on our country, because if the Bill is not allowed to progress to Third Reading, we will put at risk jobs and our future economic prosperity.

Businesses and my constituents want the Government to get on with the job and to ensure that we have certainty and can deliver a successful Brexit deal. Whether someone supported leave or remain is insignificant: the British public voted overwhelmingly to leave, especially in constituencies such as mine, Stoke-on-Trent South. We must respect the democratic result and work in the national interest. What matters now is that we in this House are seen to be doing everything possible to make a success of Brexit, and that we reduce the chance of disruption to our economy and seize on the opportunities that come from our leaving the EU. We must ensure that we give Ministers the ability to do that in the most efficient and effective way possible.

It is right that we scrutinise the legislation effectively, but we must also recognise the need for secondary powers to adjust EU legislation to fit into the UK legal system and to make sure it remains relevant from the moment we leave. There has already been much debate about the use of such powers, but they are necessary to make the process workable. As colleagues have said, they are well-established practices and will remain within Parliament’s oversight, and there will be appropriate safeguards to limit their use.

I am optimistic about our future after we leave the EU, which the Bill will help to facilitate. As with any change, there is always some initial uncertainty, but through the Bill we can help to provide confidence about our economic future. From that point, the Government can get on and deliver the more global-trading Britain that we want to see. Businesses in my constituency share those thoughts, although some may have initial trepidation. By and large, firms in Stoke-on-Trent—especially those across our manufacturing sector—see the significant opportunities that can be realised both in striking the right path outside the EU, regaining control of our own destiny and growing our trading opportunities around the world. Only by voting in favour of the Bill tonight can we ensure that the Brexit process will move forward successfully, without delay, and guarantee a stable future outside the EU.