[3rd Allotted Day]

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 4:28 pm on 6th December 2018.

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Photo of Albert Owen Albert Owen Labour, Ynys Môn 4:28 pm, 6th December 2018

The draft withdrawal agreement is a political fudge. The political declaration weakens the United Kingdom, and, as the economic analysis, whether of this deal or no deal, shows, the agreement would make my constituents, the people of Wales and the people of the UK worse off economically. I cannot support a fudged deal that weakens the UK and makes people poorer, and I will be voting against it on Tuesday, but I will be supporting the amendment in the name of my right hon. Friend Hilary Benn.

In 2016, my constituency voted by the slimmest of majorities—715—to leave the European Union. I respected that result. It was a mandate to trigger article 50, which I voted for because I felt that it was the right thing to do. I stand today representing not one section of that community, whether leave or remain, but 100% of the electorate, which includes those who did not vote and those who could not vote because of their age. I am here to represent all those people.

In 2017, the Prime Minister called a Brexit election. She proposed a clean Brexit—everyone will remember her saying that Brexit means Brexit—and she lost her parliamentary majority and that mandate. As other Members have said, she could have then reached out and built a consensus across the Chamber and pulled our country together. She chose instead to put her party’s interests first. She said that a general election was not in the interests of the country, but she went ahead with it anyway and made a deal with the European Research Group and the DUP, and we have seen where that has ended up.

In the 2017 general election, I put forward a sensible soft Brexit. My mandate and my majority increased significantly. Indeed, parties that represented that opinion in my constituency secured more than 70% of the public vote. I wanted a sensible Brexit, and voted for amendments in the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. Unfortunately, they were forced down by the Conservatives and the DUP.

My constituency is on the frontline of Brexit. It is the major port with the Republic of Ireland, a gateway to Wales and Great Britain and it relies heavily on trade across the Irish sea. Yesterday, I read with great interest the Attorney General’s advice on trade. His words were very clear—although he is a barrister, I understood every word that he said. He said very clearly that trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain would require regulatory checks, whether at the airport, at the port, or down the road. There is no room for such checks at the moment. Goods from Great Britain going to the EU would be considered third-country goods. That is why I cannot accept this deal, and it was right that our Front-Bench team fought to get that evidence.

I am on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee and have seen no evidence that this deal will be better than what we currently have. I accept that businesses are putting pressure on us, saying that this deal is better than no deal, but it is just pushing the matter down the road. There are no guarantees, which is why Members have to look to the long-term future and to our younger generation and ask with honesty whether they can support a deal that makes that generation poorer and that makes our country poorer. I cannot do so. I think that we should look again. We should go back to Brussels, have a general election or, indeed, another referendum, which is based on the facts.