European Union Citizenship

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:06 pm on 7th March 2018.

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Photo of Matt Warman Matt Warman Conservative, Boston and Skegness 3:06 pm, 7th March 2018

The hon. Gentleman uses the word “may,” and we should be looking at what the options are and at what the precedents may be. The Minister is right to say that we will no longer be members when we leave, and therefore we will no longer have the rights we currently have. The hon. Gentleman may pray in aid precedents that suggest something else, and we may be able to rely on some of those precedents in due course. We should not prejudge any of that, and we have to be pragmatic in where we start.

It is also worth bearing in mind that people across my constituency and across the country voted for precisely those kinds of differences. They voted for the Government to negotiate a new relationship with Europe, which is precisely what we are doing.

One aspect of the motion on which the hon. Member for Arfon did not particularly dwell is single market access, which defines a huge part of our relationship with the EU. This is not a fault that he committed, but it is a frustrating and patronising element of some aspects of this debate to say that people did not know what they were voting for when they voted in the referendum. My constituents were very clear that they were voting to leave the single market because they were voting to strike our own trade deals with other countries across the world and to open up new opportunities. We should not allow ourselves to pretend there was not a full and frank debate about what leaving the European Union might mean before people went into the polling booths.

A crucial part of the motion implies there are not the opportunities outside the EU that people voted for. The hon. Gentleman frames it as though all we will be doing is losing rights when we leave the European Union. We should, of course, bear in mind that there will be a different relationship, but there are opportunities out there, too. Part of the Prime Minister’s positive approach is to say that there are opportunities that we must seize and that there is another side to the coin—that not everyone can have every single thing they might wish for.

The hon. Gentleman proposed that we could stay in the single market and retain all our rights as they are today. My response to him is that he should not be wilfully blind to the opportunities. I think we will get a good deal with the European Union that allows us to retain many of the benefits we see today, but we will also have access to a wider world out there in a very different way. That is not to say that it will all be a bed of roses and that it will be the easiest thing we could ever do, but he should acknowledge the other side of the coin.