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Leaving the Eu: Negotiations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:02 pm on 10th July 2018.

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Photo of Vincent Cable Vincent Cable Leader of the Liberal Democrats 2:02 pm, 10th July 2018

I beg to move,

That this House
believes that the Government’s negotiations to leave the EU have not progressed to the satisfaction of the people of the UK, with polls indicating that 69 per cent of the people now believe the exit process is going badly;
calls on the Government to engage in cross-party discussions with a view to establishing a government of national unity;
and further believes that the people of the UK should have the final say on the UK’s relationship with the EU through a people’s vote on the deal.

It is a pleasure to be able to introduce this Liberal Democrat debate on the Government’s handling of the Brexit negotiations, the pleasure being greater because the opportunity is rather infrequent. I am aware that the House has had a pretty unremitting diet of Brexit, Brexit and more Brexit, but we judge that another helping is necessary because of the events that have taken place over the past few days. Yesterday we had an opportunity to question the Prime Minister on the Chequers agreement, but this debate gives Members an opportunity to develop their arguments in rather greater detail.

Of course, all this is being discussed in a Westminster bubble, and we will frequently be reminded that there is such a thing as the popular will. However, the popular will, as manifested in surveys of public opinion, suggests that at present about 70% of the public judge that the Government are handling the Brexit negotiations badly, and that figure has been on an increasing trend for pretty much the past year.

A lot of that disillusionment has to do with the way in which members of the Government have been conducting themselves. Over the past few days, we have had a treasure trove of quotations from senior members of the Government about what they really think about the Government’s negotiating position.