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I was not elected to this place to make my constituents poorer or less safe. I do not believe that anyone from any party came into politics to do that, but if we vote for this deal we will be doing just that. The evidence is clear: leaving the European Union will make us poorer as an economy, as a country and as a society. It will put people’s livelihoods at risk and the future of our children in jeopardy. I will vote against this deal.
For me, this is deeply personal. I have studied in France and Spain; I have worked in Brussels and Madrid; I speak French and Spanish; and I call myself a citizen of both Wales and Europe. I am proud of the European Union for bringing countries together in unity and peace. Members may disagree with me, and that is their right, but anyone who says that we must leave the EU because of a vote that was taken two and a half years ago is mistaken.
The splits and divisions that we see across society are not going away. Extremists are waiting to expose the differences we see in our politics today, and our actions and words will scar Britain for decades to come. Now is the time for leadership, to be brave and to stand up for what is right, not to blindly follow the path set out by previous Governments and Administrations. We were elected to do the right thing by our constituents—those hard-working families and people who depend on the jobs that a stable and flourishing economy provides; on well-run and efficient public services; and on high performing schools, universities and hospitals. Being a full EU member keeps us safe from terrorism and international crime. It keeps us in the crucial networks that our Prime Minister fought to keep us a part of when she was Home Secretary—access that she cannot now guarantee.
We have a heard a lot of nonsense, repetition and bluster in this House. Many Conservative Members, such as John Redwood have been using the issue for their own ends. They are ego-driven, nostalgic for a past empire and an imperial nation, which is a dangerous attitude from Members ignorant of this nation’s history. Brexit has dominated everything here. It is the single biggest issue facing us since the second world war, it will have repercussions for many years to come and we know that other important business is being sidelined as a result. This week and next, world leaders are coming together in Katowice in Poland to decide how to tackle climate change. It is the single biggest issue facing the world and our future place in it, but one would not know it here. This place is embroiled in an act of immense self-harm: Brexit. The UK should be leading the way on climate action. Instead, it has tangled itself up in untruths and falsehoods about Brexit.
We have heard many of those untruths over the past two years. We have heard that getting a good deal would be the easiest thing ever, that we hold all the cards in the negotiations, and that there will be £350 million a week for the NHS. We are now hearing another lie: that we should back the Prime Minister’s blindfold, lose-lose deal or plummet off a cliff edge with a no-deal Brexit. We know that that is a false choice. This blindfold Brexit deal is a fantasy. Major decisions are being postponed, leaving us forever negotiating our future relationship with the EU. We also know that there is no Brexit deal that can meet all the promises that have been made. The real choice now is whether to go ahead with this blindfold fantasy or stick with the best deal, which we already have as a member of the EU.
There is still time to change course and do the right thing. Many people come up to me in my Cardiff North constituency and ask me to put a stop to the madness. Many of them actually voted leave two years ago, but they are changing their minds. Businesses and people are frantic with worry. The only reason why the Prime Minister has received half-hearted support for the deal from business is that it provides a few years of transition for businesses to plan their move out of this country. The real risk with this so-called deal is that it leaves absolutely everything unresolved—indefinite uncertainty. That is not what people want. Democracy means that only the people can sort this out, which is why we must ask them in a people’s vote on the final deal.