[3rd Allotted Day]

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 5:12 pm on 6th December 2018.

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Photo of Jeremy Lefroy Jeremy Lefroy Conservative, Stafford 5:12 pm, 6th December 2018

I want to look forward 10 years from now, at the position our country will be in if we vote for the withdrawal agreement, as I intend to, and have a deal along the lines of the political declaration. I believe that we will see a country in which we have implemented the results of the referendum and that we will almost certainly—I will come on to that in a minute —have broad and comprehensive agreements with the European Union. We will probably have agreed free trade agreements with many other countries, including those that we do not have them with at the moment.

However, there is, of course, uncertainty in that. There is uncertainty in every course that we could take. Indeed, there is even uncertainty if we stay in the EU—we do not know what the EU will be like in 10 years’ time and how much more integration will have occurred. In the long term, however, our future is going to depend far more on proper investment in the education of our young people in this country, on an approach to immigration based on skills and not on salaries, on ensuring that our universities thrive, and on investing far more than we have done, even as a member of the European Union, in capital and research.

One thing I know is that I cannot under any circumstances support a no deal. My hon. Friend Sir Roger Gale described on Tuesday the consequences for his constituency, and my right hon. Friend Sir Michael Fallon said yesterday that

“no deal would be highly irresponsible.”—[Official Report, 5 December 2018;
Vol. 650, c. 939.]

Having visited the port of Dover, Honda in Swindon and Toyota in Burnaston last week, having spoken to Jaguar Land Rover, a very important employer in my part of the world, and having seen the dependence on frictionless trade, I absolutely agree.

One thing is really important. Gareth Snell mentioned it earlier. This is about more than just a trade deal or a future relationship. This is about investing in our communities, the communities that have been left behind, and have been ignored by us—Members on both sides of the House—over the last eight years. It is time that we got real. It is time that we had something almost like a Marshall plan for the United Kingdom to put us into a position in which we can thrive and compete in the 21st century, and, to be honest, I do not think that our membership of the European Union is as important in that respect. All those decisions will be made right here, in the House.

Let me say finally that we have to work together, across the House, to ensure that whatever happens on Tuesday—and it looks very much as though this deal will not get through, at least on Tuesday—we work to secure an agreement so that we do not leave without a deal next March.