[2nd Allotted Day]

Part of Immigration (Time Limit on Detention) – in the House of Commons at 6:29 pm on 5th December 2018.

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Photo of Catherine West Catherine West Labour, Hornsey and Wood Green 6:29 pm, 5th December 2018

I beg to disagree, but I will mention the environment later in my short speech, and it is a pleasure to follow the hon. Gentleman.

I wanted to start by talking about the language we have been using in recent days. The particular term that has caused a lot of concern in my constituency is “queue jumpers”, and I was pleased to hear that the Prime Minister apologised for that in the House the day before yesterday. We know that so many EU citizens in my constituency have been worried by that term. My right hon. Friend Mr Lammy and I share the London Borough of Haringey, where 42,000 EU citizens are resident. They are friends, colleagues, NHS workers and neighbours, and they are a valued part of our diverse community. It is important that we in this House do not forget the importance of having that respectful debate, despite our differences of opinion and views.

Obviously, the economy has to be mentioned in relation to this deal, because many have warned about the danger of this deal. In particular, we know that the Governor of the Bank of England has said that all of the assessments identify significant negative outcomes for the economy, resulting in hard-working families facing food price hikes of 10%, businesses facing increased friction when trading and the country as a whole facing yet another recession. I find it difficult to believe that anybody could vote for a deal that could lead to another recession, given that we have not really recovered from the one in 2008, following the global financial crash.

Equally, we have no firm or clear commitments on participation in Europol and Eurojust, and several concerns about security arrangements, which have been highlighted by not only my right hon. Friend Ms Abbott, but others. We know that human trafficking, international crime, drug smuggling, terrorism and illegal immigration are all issues that are tackled most effectively through deep and integrated international co-operation, which is, logically, done in particular with our closest neighbours.

On geopolitics, just a few weeks ago we marked the centenary of the armistice. It is not stretching things too far to bring that into this debate and say just how moving it was to see the German President lay a wreath at the Cenotaph. It was a reminder of the importance of internationalism, and the specific role the EU has played in maintaining peace across the continent and promoting that ideal worldwide. We speak about NATO, defence and security over and over again in this Chamber, but we all know that it is the people-to-people contact, the country-to-country contact, the Erasmus students and the internationalism that underpins that security and makes that relationship meaningful. At a time when the liberal order is once again under threat, with the rise of an expansionist Russia, a volatile American foreign policy and the far right once again on the march on the streets of Europe, as the hon. Member for Richmond Park mentioned, now is not the time to distance ourselves from our European friends.

It is abundantly clear that this deal cannot command a majority in this House, for the reasons I have set out, as well as others. Likewise, we all know that the destination of no deal will not be accepted by a majority of hon. Members. It is pleasing to see so many Members, regardless of which side of the EU referendum debate they are on, say today that no deal would be an act of vandalism. So where does that leave us? Like many Members from both sides of the House, I have continued to make the case for a second vote. The hon. Member for Richmond Park is quite right to say that we must respect the referendum result and must not be patronising about why people voted the way they did. In the same way, once the democracy switch is flicked, the only way to unflick it is to flick it off.

Earlier in the debate, Dr Wollaston made a valuable contribution. If someone needs a hip replacement, they go to see the surgeon, and in consenting to the operation they know exactly what they are getting. A second meaningful vote for people would really help us Members of Parliament to make the decision. It would be completely different if we had a Parliament in which there was an overwhelming majority and it was clear as a bell, but given that the result was so close in June 2016 and that we are living through such unusual times in the House of Commons, it is important that the people assist us to make this crucial decision.

I welcome the fact that the shadow Chancellor, my right hon. Friend John McDonnell, and the shadow Brexit Secretary, my right hon. and learned Friend Keir Starmer, have said that a second vote has not been taken off the table. I look forward to progress on that position.

On multiple occasions, the Prime Minister has refused to consider the option of a second referendum, on the basis that the decision was made in 2016, but nothing ever stands still in politics. As we go forward and see that each week we are losing £500 million from our economy, it is important to be a little more decisive and provide the opportunity, quite quickly, to have a second vote. We can then put the issue to bed and focus on other key issues, including the NHS, schools funding and universal credit—all the things that we know our constituents want us to get a wriggle on with.

I recognise the result of the referendum. As mentioned in my intervention on Mr Evans, I have serious concerns about the way Vote Leave ran the campaign. I should emphasise that the illegitimate use of social media, which the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee is now looking into, along with the questionable use of political donations and the question marks over whether some of the funds used may have come from abroad, are all crucial to our democracy. Each time we have a democratic exercise, we learn more from it. It is crucial that if we ask the public a further question on this issue, we get it right, maintain a positive tone and ensure that we have the best standards of democracy. I look forward to hearing other contributions and hope that we eventually get that second vote.