1st Allotted Day

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Act – in the House of Commons at 5:46 pm on 4th December 2018.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 5:46 pm, 4th December 2018

The hon. Gentleman knows full well that we have had a high degree of engagement with the Scottish Government, and indeed with the Welsh Government, on all these matters as we have been going through. We will continue to have that high level of engagement. There are areas where there is a disagreement. The Scottish Government want, ideally, to remain in the European Union, but that would deny the vote of the British people—[Interruption.] That would deny the vote of the British people, so we do have a difference of opinion on that.

Let me now deal with another question that has been raised, which is the question of another referendum. I understand the argument that, if this House is deadlocked, we could give the decision back to the British people, but I ask the House to consider what that would say to those in our constituencies who put aside decades of doubt in the political process because they believed that their voice would finally be heard; what it would say about the state of our democracy if the biggest vote in our history were to be rerun because a majority in this House did not like the outcome; what it would do to that democracy; and what forces it would unleash.

This House voted to give the decision to the British people and this House promised that we would honour their decision. If we betray that promise, how can we expect them to trust us again? Even if we held a referendum, what would it achieve? It would not bring the country together; it would divide us all over again. It would not end the debate, because if it were close like last time, whichever side lost out would soon start to call for a third referendum. It would not take as forwards; rather, it would take us back to square one. This country cannot afford to spend the next decade going round in circles on the question of our relationship with the European Union. We have already spent too many years with divisions on Europe simmering in the body politic. We must deliver on the referendum that we have already had, focus on the day-to-day concerns of the people and take this country forward.