Thank you, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity to contribute to what is probably one of the most important debates of my parliamentary career. In the time available, I want to explain why, if the terms of the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration remain the same, I will be supporting the Government when Parliament votes on the deal next Tuesday evening.
I personally voted to remain within the EU, but at the time of the referendum result and at the subsequent general election, I committed fully to honouring the will of my constituents, 62% of whom voted to come out and 38% of whom voted to remain. My commitment to my constituents has not changed. My decision on whether this deal is the right deal has not been taken lightly. It has been reached only after many conversations with my constituents and after reading through the many emails and other correspondence that I have received from constituents about the different formats of the deal over the past few weeks, and indeed since the referendum.
Local businesses in my constituency, such as my many upholsterers in Long Eaton, have also urged me to back the deal. They need to ensure that they can continue, for example, to buy their fabric from Europe in a way that does not affect their business, because that is their livelihood. The upholsterers in Long Eaton employ a total of more than 2,700 people and have a combined turnover of £250 million. That involves just 50 small businesses, and they are very important to the future of Long Eaton. The upholstery business is the heart and soul of that town. All my local businesses, small and large, want and need the uncertainty to end. They just want to get back to normal, so that consumer confidence will return, securing jobs, trade and continued success not just for my constituency, but for the whole of the UK.
I fully accept that the deal may not be perfect in every single way, but the very nature of negotiation means that both sides must be willing to give and take. What about the alternatives? The case for a people’s vote has been advanced by some to try to overturn the decision of the British people, but that would not only be undemocratic, but risk dividing our communities even further—perhaps irreversibly. Others have argued that no deal would be an option, but although the Government quite rightly continue to prepare for it, we do not want it and should not have to go down that route, because that would affect our trade and future prosperity. Many of our constituents increasingly see a political class that has become so entrenched in our own idealistic visions of leaving or remaining that we run the risk of losing their faith in this Parliament. My appeal to Members across the House is to end the political games, reflect on the consequences of rejecting the deal and then let us unite to do what is in our nation’s best interest.
I mentioned the small upholstery businesses, but I also have large businesses in or on the edge of my constituency. One business that employs 17,750 people across the UK and Ireland said to me:
“We ask that you give us the opportunity to build upon Brexit and make it a success and vote the Prime Minister’s deal through to give us the clarity we so badly need.”
Other local businesses where many of my constituents work, such as Rolls-Royce, Bombardier and Toyota, echo that sentiment.
In conclusion, I know in my head and my heart that we need to support the Government for the future prosperity of our nation.