[3rd Allotted Day]

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 5:39 pm on 6th December 2018.

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Photo of Steve McCabe Steve McCabe Labour, Birmingham, Selly Oak 5:39 pm, 6th December 2018

I want to make a contribution to recognise the wishes and fears of people in Selly Oak who took part in the referendum, and to acknowledge all those who have contacted me offering sincere advice, opinions and sometimes threats about how I should vote. I also want to thank everyone who has taken part in my surveys as I have attempted to understand this in the context of the needs of my constituents, a majority of whom voted to remain—in fact, two wards voted to remain and two voted to leave. I have always accepted that people took part in the referendum in good faith and we should try to acknowledge the overall result, even if it is extremely uncomfortable in a constituency such as mine, but what I cannot accept is that people voted for the deal that the Prime Minister is now trying to represent as the will of the British people.

We are much better informed now about the implications of Brexit than was the case during the referendum. We also know more about the behaviour of the leave campaign, which casts a shadow over the result. I admire the Prime Minister’s stamina and do not envy her the impossible position she was bequeathed, but the reality is that her offer is the deal that does not deliver. She promised to make us stronger, but it will make us poorer. She promised to end free movement but expects us to vote without even having had sight of her immigration plans. She promised co-operation in the fight against crime and terrorism, while opting out of vital security arrangements. The answer to every question is the political declaration, which is a fudge—the very kind of fudge unacceptable to all those who want to leave. The reality is that we will continue to be subject to the European Court of Justice but lose our right to participate and have a say. We will also lose our access the Schengen database.

This deal may give the illusion that we have left, but every leaver knows that Brexit does not mean Brexit under this deal, and every manufacturer and exporter must realise that this is not the frictionless trade they are seeking. It is a political declaration where the obligations have yet to be addressed—in other words, it is without guarantees, on jobs, exports, the arrangements for businesses beyond the transition period, higher education, research and health. It is a real pity the Prime Minister spent so little time trying to build bridges across this House and so much time trying to placate the extremists and shoring up the interests of her purchased Democratic Unionist party majority. We have reached the stage where we can have no deal, a very poor deal or a genuine review of what people really want. I am not going to vote for this deal, because it does not give any guarantees to my constituents. Leavers do not really leave and they will be poorer. Remainers end up as associate members of a partnership where they once had much better rights and deals, and they will end up paying and taking rules without getting anything like the same in return.

I think the Prime Minister ought to set up an all-party commission. Let those of us of good will who want to work together to see whether there is something we can salvage from this do so. We must stop telling people that this deal delivers where it does not. We must stop pretending that the referendum was some definitive judgment. We must stop pretending about the manifesto commitments. Let us try to get a deal, and then put that to the British people and let them decide.