[2nd Allotted Day]

Part of Immigration (Time Limit on Detention) – in the House of Commons at 3:17 pm on 5th December 2018.

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Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper Chair, Home Affairs Committee 3:17 pm, 5th December 2018

That is right, because my understanding is that the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary did ask to have those measures included, because they understand how important they are, but the EU continues to resist. I think that that is wrong and irresponsible, but if we are going to have an ongoing negotiation on this, we should do that from a position of strength and not by weakening our position, which I am afraid that this deal does.

What are we going to say to victims of crime in the weeks after we lose access to the SIS II database if the police or Border Force fail to stop a dangerous offender who is on the SIS II database and known to other countries? What happens if we do not let the police have that information and then the offender commits another crime? Perhaps the most troubling thing of all is that there is no security backstop in this deal. Unlike for Northern Ireland and for trade, there is no backstop to continue security co-operation until a future security treaty or overarching treaty is agreed. If the transition period runs out and we have not agreed such things, we will lose vital capabilities. Given how long it takes to negotiate complex arrangements around extradition and how long it will take to ratify a full treaty, that is another irresponsible decision for us to take.

On immigration, the proposals that we still need to see will affect not just EU citizens wanting to live and work here, but UK citizens wanting to live and work in the EU and, obviously, the arrangements for business recruitment. If the Home Office does genuinely have an immigration White Paper all ready to go that it is planning to publish later in December after the vote, it must realise what a signal of contempt denying Parliament the chance to see it before this vote would be. If the Home Office has that White Paper, it should publish it this week so that Members have time to see it before the vote.

I support amendment (c), in the name of my right hon. Friend Hilary Benn, because it opposes not only the Prime Minister’s deal, but no deal. I agreed with the Home Secretary when he said earlier that there are significant security risks from no deal. There are clearly economic risks. One local factory told me that the cost of its imports will double in price if we go to WTO tariffs and another said that its European parent company would be under pressure to move production to continental factories instead. On security, however, the threats are even greater, because the police and Border Force would immediately lose access to crucial information that they use to keep us safe, including legal agreements that underpin ongoing investigations and trials, all of which could immediately be put at risk, and the European arrest warrants that we have out on the Skripal suspects. Even if hon. Members do not care about stockpiling medicines or lorry parks on Kent’s motorways or the Bank of England’s warnings about recessions, I hope that they will take seriously the warnings from the National Crime Agency and the National Police Chiefs’ Council about the risk that no deal will make us less safe.

The Prime Minister also has a responsibility to be ready if and when this vote goes down, given the strong views against it. She must be ready to take the opportunity to go immediately to Brussels and to request an extension of article 50 so that everyone has time to draw breath. I know that extending the process would be painful for all sides and that no one wants to be the person calling for it, but we must be honest that the process will carry on regardless. We have to start behaving like grownups and actually recognise the serious things that we are going to have to do.

We will need time to build a consensus around any possible way forward. I think that is possible to do, but I recognise the hugely different views in this place and across the country. This deal is flawed and makes us weaker, but we need to take the time to build a consensus on the way forward. In the end, that is why we are here. The Prime Minister has tried to find compromise, but she has done so without reaching out, without trying to build consensus, without trying to consult, and without even giving this House the chance to vote on what the objectives of the negotiations might be. We cannot do something this big and this hard with this many long-lasting consequences without building some consensus. That is the task for us now. It is going to be hard, but that is the test of our politics. I believe we are up to it, but we are going to have to prove it.