Exiting the European Union: Meaningful Vote

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:06 pm on 11th December 2018.

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Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party 2:06 pm, 11th December 2018

I cannot recall a time when any Government have come to the House to promise something that will make people worse off and then blindly continue to go ahead with it. It is not only the backstop that is a problem. Many will not vote for a blindfold Brexit on the basis of a 26-page wish list attached to it. It fails to guarantee the frictionless trade that the Prime Minister promised. It fails to maintain our membership of vital agencies and programmes. It fails to ensure that our rights and protections will be kept in place. It fails to provide a comprehensive customs union with a UK say. On the latter point, I welcome the endorsement of a permanent customs union by former Brexit Minister Lord Bridges, who said that it could be the basis for a parliamentary consensus.

Yesterday, following her statement, the Prime Minister failed to answer a single one of my questions, so last night I wrote to her, together with the leaders of the Scottish National party, Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens. We set out five questions to the Prime Minister. Sadly, she is not here to answer them. Therefore, Mr Speaker, when she returns from her strange stage-managed foray to Europe, I hope she will reply promptly to the five Opposition parties who wrote to her.

While the Prime Minister sends our country into Brexit-induced paralysis, the coming winter threatens the deepest crisis in our NHS. Homelessness and rough sleeping continue their unrelenting rise. The local government funding settlement is delayed yet again, meaning our very hard-hit councils cannot start budgeting for next year and neither can the police—facing rising violent crime because their funding settlement is delayed, too. Another Government contractor, we learn, is at risk, and thousands of jobs, too, as Interserve teeters on the brink of collapse; and all the while, the economy is slowing—high streets in crisis, shares tumbling, the pound plummeting. This is not strong and stable government—it is weak leadership from a weak Prime Minister.