1st Allotted Day

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Act – in the House of Commons at 7:32 pm on 4th December 2018.

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Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Conservative, Uxbridge and South Ruislip 7:32 pm, 4th December 2018

I will not comment on when I heard about just-in-time supply chains, but it was many years ago. The objective, as my right hon. Friend knows, is to create a zero-tariff, zero-quota deal with the EU, which is readily deliverable when we consider that we already have zero tariffs and zero quotas. As for her anxiety about job losses, we have already heard a lot of prophecies about job losses. I think it was said that we would lose 500,000 jobs in this country if the British people had the temerity to vote leave. Actually, we gained 800,000 jobs, so I take such prophecies with a pinch of salt.

The sad thing is that too many people—indeed, some of the people who have been negotiating this deal—seem to regard Brexit as a disaster to be managed, rather than an opportunity. They see bad news as a vindication of that judgment and talk up bad news as a result. In taking that attitude, they badly misunderstand the instincts of the people of this country, who did not vote for Brexit out of hate, as the Prime Minister’s chief of staff tweeted after the referendum. They voted to take back control of our laws because they believe—I think, rightly—that if we govern ourselves and legislate in the interests of the UK economy, they have a better chance of good jobs, higher wages, cheaper food and clothes, and a brighter future, all of which are possible under a proper Brexit, and none of which can be delivered by this deal.

Above all, if we vote through this apology for Brexit, we will be showing that we have treated the 17.4 million people—the highest number of people ever to vote for a single proposition—with contempt. We will be turning our backs on those people. We must understand that when people voted to leave in 2016, they voted for change. They did not vote for an endless transition or a thinly disguised version of the status quo: they voted for freedom, independence and a better Britain—and for a country where politicians actually listen to what the people say. If we try to cheat them now—as I fear that we are trying to cheat them—they will spot it, and they will never forgive us.