[2nd Allotted Day]

Part of Immigration (Time Limit on Detention) – in the House of Commons at 4:34 pm on 5th December 2018.

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Photo of Virendra Sharma Virendra Sharma Labour, Ealing, Southall 4:34 pm, 5th December 2018

Many hon. Members have spoken in this debate on one of the most important pieces of legislation that this House has considered, and I am grateful that we have as much time as we do to debate this nation’s next steps. I do not believe it is hyperbole to say that we are charged with setting this nation’s future.

I campaigned for our country to remain in the EU. I believe we are stronger when we work with our neighbours, not when we turn our backs on them. The majority of this House said that leaving the EU would be bad for business, strip protections from workers and leave us isolated in the world. We were not heeded. Many of us here counselled that article 50 should not have been triggered and that rushing to this momentous step was foolhardy. We were not heeded. We stood in this House and the Prime Minister paid lip service to the requests of hon. Members to negotiate to protect key sectors of the economy. We were not heeded

The Prime Minister and her Government have carried on regardless, with the small clique running things the same way that they always have. In this country’s greatest leap into the unknown, she has chosen not to bring people together, not to create consensus, and not to work openly. But she has used every scintilla of strategy and guile she could muster to block this place from scrutinising her deal. Now it is too late; I am sure other Members will respond to that later on. Behind her sits looming the largest rebellion of this century, because she thought she alone could design the deal this country needs. Leadership may take self-belief, but it needs self-awareness, too.

The deal that we will vote on is not a deal for growth, it is not a deal for an outward-looking Britain, and it certainly is not a deal for the future. We abandon allies and friends in Europe, and we put into question our own security, and so I do not vote against this deal lightly. If we vote this deal down, the risk only rises of a no deal Brexit—a no deal Brexit that will destroy jobs and livelihoods, drive teachers, doctors and nurses out of the UK, and create another generation scarred by a self-inflicted recession.

This country was built on immigration. I myself came here more than 50 years ago, made a family and a life here, served as a local councillor for over 25 years, and have become a Member of Parliament. But the Prime Minister’s plan for Brexit will denude this nation of who it needs most, so I cannot in good faith vote for a deal that leaves my constituents, young and old, without a brighter looking future. Are my grandchildren and all their generation going to look back at this moment and at the Prime Minister’s deal, and remember it as the moment we snuffed out their hope?

The misjudgment, the mishandling and the sheer incompetence of our so-called pivot to the world is staggering, I cannot believe this is what anyone voted for on 23 June 2016. We owe it to everyone in this country, from Ealing Southall to Edinburgh and across the Irish sea, to end this madness. This House should vote down the Prime Minister’s deal, and the Government should take a stand for our country and withdraw our notice under article 50. They should show some leadership. If the Prime Minister cannot summon the courage even to hand the decision back to the people in a new referendum, then this is the appropriate time for her to stand aside and let others show some real leadership.