[3rd Allotted Day]

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 4:56 pm on 6th December 2018.

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Photo of Richard Drax Richard Drax Conservative, South Dorset 4:56 pm, 6th December 2018

Before I start, I want to say this. Two Opposition Members have called myself and other honourable colleagues “extremists”. I am not an extremist; I am a humble Back-Bench MP trying to deliver what the British people asked us to.

I wonder how posterity will record this period of our island’s history and democracy. Will it be a period of unity, courage, integrity and democracy in action, or will it be a period of division, rancour, faint-heartedness, lack of integrity and the will of the people disrespectfully ground into the dirt? I had hoped and prayed for the former, but I fear the latter is more likely to darken the pages of our history books in the future, unless there is a Damascene conversion in Government policy. I remind the House that we agreed to an EU referendum by 544 to 53 votes, to trigger article 50 by 461 to 89 votes, and to pass the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill by 498 to 114 votes. Those were not marginal wins.

Our instructions and our duty are clear: to leave the EU in its entirety. However, regrettably and sadly, there are many politicians on both sides of this House and the upper House who are doing all they can to prevent Brexit. If their will wins, why on earth should any of us stand for this place again? Why should we knock on doors and sell our hopes for the country, whichever party we belong to, when no one will believe a word we say? Despite frequent warnings, we are being led to a dark place, unprecedented in our history.

I was grateful to be granted a private meeting with the Prime Minister on Tuesday. Having written to her frequently with my blunt assessments of her direction of travel, what I say in this Chamber, I have communicated directly to her.

Many colleagues have already exposed the deal for what it really is, but I would like to briefly list five of the reasons that I cannot vote with the Government on Tuesday. First, it does not deliver what the people voted for. Secondly, the backstop is a potential trap. Thirdly, the Prime Minister promised repeatedly to respect the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom; the withdrawal agreement does not. Fourthly, we intend to hand over up to £39 billion of taxpayers’ hard-earned money without so much as a by-your-leave. Fifthly, the much ignored and extremely ambiguous political declaration leaves far too much room for mischievous politicians, both here and in Brussels, to play fast and loose with the UK struggle to leave the EU.

As I have the time, may I briefly touch on the no deal? When we negotiate, we have to have something to fall back on. We need a point beyond which we will not go any further, and that is what the no deal option is. It is one that none of us wants—whatever those in this House think that people like me think, we do not want it—but the WTO terms are not the end of the world, and under those terms the EU cannot discriminate against us. This whole debate is about our destiny—the future—and once we have grabbed that future, the rest will fall into place.