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It is a great pleasure to follow hon. Members in this debate, and like many of my constituents I am extremely worried about what has developed. We are all practically certain that the Prime Minister will not get her deal through next week unless something quite extraordinary happens, and I am aware that when I vote against that deal, I will vote against it with some who are doing so for very different reasons. I have no truck with the ghosts of Brexit Secretaries and Foreign Secretaries past who act as commentators and who, despite the sunny uplands of which they speak, refuse to accept that where we are now has anything to do with them. As I vote, I will have no sympathies for them whatsoever.
Today’s debate is on the economy, and I believe that our economy and jobs must come first. I have had many emails, letters and phone calls from constituents, and they are worried. I, too, am worried, because according to the Government’s economic forecasts, the UK economy will suffer under all forms of Brexit. When a body as prestigious as the National Institute of Economic and Social Research tells us that the Prime Minister’s deal, versus staying in the EU, would leave UK domestic product falling by £100 billion annually, that is a concern.
To those who think that such projections are no more accurate than reading tea leaves, let us go on to some real figures. The economy is down from being the fastest growing in the G7 in 2015 to among the slowest now, with only Italy slower. When Julian Jessop, the pro-Brexit chief economist of the Institute of Economic Affairs, admits that the UK economy has probably grown more slowly due to additional inflation prompted by sterling’s fall, that concerns me too. It also worries me when the TUC rightly makes the point that, with the PM’s deal, even during the transition period, workers would see a reduction in their rights: the UK Government have suggested that new rights with an implementation period after the transition would not be brought forward in UK law.
My constituents and I are concerned. As Carwyn Jones, Wales’s First Minister, has rightly noted, Wales receives £600 million a year from the EU and we export 60% of our goods to the EU. I am very concerned and cannot support a deal that would make my constituency of Clwyd South in north Wales, Wales and the UK poorer. In the words of the former universities Minister who resigned from the Government on this issue,
“the brutal negotiations we will go through will make us poorer and less secure”.
I believe that the Chancellor is right about one thing: all this has left us a very divided nation. In my postbag, I hear from people who voted leave and who voted remain in 2016. To be honest, I cannot represent all of them adequately. So I will say this. There are 55,000-plus people of voting age in my constituency. On Tuesday, I will have the right to take part in a meaningful vote. I would like each of my 55,000-plus voters to have the same right in a people’s vote. I want that not just for the constituents of Clwyd South, but for every single voter across Wales and the UK. Let them all have a meaningful vote now that we have a meaningful proposition. Let the people’s voice be heard. If we cannot get a general election, that must be our course of action.