Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Leaving the Eu: Negotiations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:34 pm on 10th July 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union) 4:34 pm, 10th July 2018

It is a pleasure to sum up at the end of this debate, to which there have been many contributions by Members from throughout the House. I will start with the comments of the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, Chloe Smith, who is no longer in her place. She gave defending the Government’s position on Brexit her best shot; as a remainer, she knows that it will do and is doing us great harm. I give her credit for at least trying to present the Government’s policies in the best possible light.

Jenny Chapman, who speaks for the main Opposition, said that the Labour party did not want an exit from Brexit or a final say on the deal. That will come as a surprise to the majority of her party members, who support a final say on the deal and an exit from Brexit. She went on to say, following an intervention—I think this was meant to be a clarification—that the Labour party was not calling for a final say on the deal but was leaving open the option of one. We can read into that whatever we want. I read into it that the Labour party is preparing a position that it might move to at some point in the near future. We hope that that will happen at the Labour autumn conference, and we welcome the flexibility that the hon. Lady outlined.

John Lamont said, perhaps rather surprisingly, that his views did not matter. I suppose that depends on whether he thinks we are delegates or representatives in this place. I think that the views of Members of Parliament matter, and that we are not here simply to deliver something that has been voted for by a majority of our constituents, particularly if we know that it will do us a huge amount of harm. The hon. Gentleman and other Members have held out the idea that fisheries, for instance, will benefit heavily. As I understand it, however, even when we are out of the common fisheries policy, the UN law of the sea will still apply, so the idea that no other country will be able to access our waters does not bear scrutiny.

I was pleased that Stephen Gethins spoke in support of the motion. He set out, in stark terms, the economic damage that the Government know Brexit will cause us, and in an intervention he rightly highlighted the fantasy jobs Brexit on offer from the Labour party. I am afraid that the Labour spokesperson could not provide any evidence at all to back up her suggestion that there was a jobs Brexit out there.

The only thing I will say for the speech of Michael Tomlinson is that it was very short. However short it was, it was long enough for me to note that I disagreed with every single word in it.

My hon. Friend Tim Farron rightly concentrated on food poverty, and he gave a concrete example of some of the potential consequences of Brexit. Thanks to an intervention, which I do not think was supposed to be helpful, he was able to list all the things we managed to do while we were in government, such as taking millions of people off tax, creating millions of extra jobs and introducing the pensions triple lock and the pupil premium. Those things were all achieved in a five-year period of strong and stable government, on which I am sure everyone in this country looks back nostalgically as they watch the Tory party tearing itself apart and shedding Ministers on a daily basis.

Steve Double said that business wanted certainty. As I said in an intervention on one of his colleagues, the only thing that is certain is that any model of Brexit that the Government adopt will damage business. If he wants certainty, that is the certainty that business can rely on.

Gareth Snell, who is clearly not a Liberal Democrat supporter, said that it was not clear what the Liberal Democrats wanted. I think it is quite clear: we want an exit from Brexit, and we would achieve that through a final say on the deal. We accept that the only way we could legitimately secure an exit from Brexit would be through a final say on the deal that everyone in the country could take part in.