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Leaving the Eu: Negotiations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:49 pm on 10th July 2018.

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Photo of Jenny Chapman Jenny Chapman Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union) 2:49 pm, 10th July 2018

The hon. Lady does not respect the outcome of the referendum. I understand that. There is an honesty and a consistency to her approach, but that approach does not happen to be shared by the Labour party. We do accept the outcome of the referendum. Over the last year we have consistently fought to ensure that Parliament has a proper role in the process. Of course, we would have liked the outcome on that in the withdrawal Bill to have been different. But by focusing on that and working with Members on all sides of this House and in the other place, we made real progress toward a meaningful vote, and we will look to return to it in other legislation.

We are not supporting calls for a second referendum or a people’s vote. Why is that? I know that some people are frustrated by our approach, but the reason for it is that we respect the outcome of the referendum. We have been entirely consistent about that. When we asked people to vote in the 2016 referendum, we said that their vote counted, and we meant it. The impact of now telling voters that we did not mean it, or that we did not like the answer that they gave, would be profound. Members do not need to take my word for it; they can take the words of the leader of the Lib Dems, who—freed from the trappings of coalition—said in 2016:

“The public have voted and I do think it’s seriously disrespectful and politically utterly counterproductive to say ‘sorry guys, you’ve got it wrong, we’re going to try again’.”

Spot on. It is a shame that that kind of insight does not survive becoming a Lib Dem MP.