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[3rd Allotted Day]

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 4:01 pm on 6th December 2018.

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Photo of Nigel Huddleston Nigel Huddleston Conservative, Mid Worcestershire 4:01 pm, 6th December 2018

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Given that I gave my maiden speech in that length of time, I hope that I will be able to do the same today.

It is the responsibility of all of us in this House to deal with the world as it is, rather than as we would like it to be. We also need to recognise that the clock is ticking on this issue. We all have our own lovely ideas about a world of unicorns and rainbows, but we have to deal with the practical reality, and we have to take this seriously. Today’s debate is on the economy and business, and with that in mind I had a meeting last night with the CEOs of many organisations that employ tens if not hundreds of thousands of people in the UK. Their message was crystal clear: we must accept this deal because it provides certainty and the alternatives are too horrendous for them to imagine. They said that they were prepared for a no-deal scenario, but that their supply chains were not, which concerned them.

The message that this deal is not perfect but that it is one that we can accept is being repeated in my constituency. I have now talked to businesses that employ more than 10,000 people there. That message is coming from representatives of manufacturing industry in Droitwich and the food packaging industry in the Vale of Evesham. Again, the overwhelming opinion is that this deal is not great, but that we should accept it and move on.

At the end of the day, this deal was always going to be a compromise. It was never going to be anything else. Anyone who promised people that they would get 100% of what they wanted was, frankly, deceiving them. Any politician who believes that they are going to get 100% of what they want is in the wrong job. We have to be honest with the public. We must not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. As my hon. Friend Colin Clark said yesterday, we cannot go into a game with the tactics of expecting to win 7-0 because, when we do that, we often find ourselves losing 3-4. That is the reality of where we are.

This deal delivers on the vast majority of things that my constituents said they wanted. We are leaving the EU, the customs union, the single market, the common agricultural policy and the common fisheries policy. We are also ending freedom of movement. It is not perfect, however. The backstop is a major concern for many people, which I understand. It is also a concern for me. However, I am not as concerned about it as others are, because I do not believe that we will ever need to implement it. We will work together with our EU colleagues, because it is in our mutual interests to ensure that that does not happen. By definition, a backstop has to be mutually uncomfortable, and it is. If we did not have this backstop, we would have another one.

There is now a dividing line in this House between two camps. One contains those who believe that by voting down this deal we will end up with something better, whatever that might be—a second referendum, a general election or a renegotiation of the deal. The other camp contains those, including myself, who believe that, if we vote down this deal, worse things will happen. I believe the worst thing that could happen is defaulting to WTO rules under a no-deal scenario.

I do not believe for one minute that leaving the European Union will take us to some kind of tropical paradise, but nor do I believe that it will lead us to an icy wasteland. The UK economy is incredibly resilient, as we have seen over the past two years. We can cope with a lot of the things that are thrown our way, but why should we make it more difficult? We are now faced with the certainty and clarity of a deal. Business wants us to accept that deal. Not everyone in my constituency is happy with it, but most people are saying, “Just accept it. Let’s get on with it and move forward.” I am with them on that, because the one thing I cannot and will not do is risk jobs in my constituency in the hope that something better might come along at some point. I take incredibly seriously my responsibility as an MP to ensure that my constituents are employed in safe and secure jobs, and that is why I will be voting for this deal on Tuesday.