Exiting the European Union: Meaningful Vote

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:51 pm on 11th December 2018.

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Photo of Kate Hoey Kate Hoey Labour, Vauxhall 3:51 pm, 11th December 2018

The right hon. Gentleman is right. The EU has said clearly that even in a no-deal situation and under WTO rules, there would not need to be a hard border, and therefore there is no need for a backstop. Anything that the Prime Minister comes back with—more reassurance, more letters and more white bits of paper—will not be accepted unless it is in a legally binding agreement. The political choice was taken by the Government to treat the border as an insoluble problem.

A majority in my constituency voted to remain—not everybody, but I acknowledge that. I always say that the third of my constituents who voted to leave in London were in a minority, but they have a right to be represented. It was a national referendum with a national decision to be implemented. I can now say with certainty that virtually none of my constituents in Vauxhall, whether leavers or remainers, has asked me to support this deal.

Whatever is said about the political declaration and all its fine words about intentions for the future, it is not a legal document, and it is therefore meaningless. How could we, as a United Kingdom, have got into a situation where our Prime Minister wants to sign a legally binding agreement giving away £39 billion in advance of any trade negotiations? It will be seen by most members of the public as mind-blowingly stupid.

We hear so much about how clever our civil servants are and how wonderful their advice must be. Frankly, I think they are very clever. They have helped to do what the EU wished and supported a deal that is more in line with the view of the elite—that we never should have left. They have worked so hard to keep us as closely aligned to the EU as possible and then sell it as the best deal we can get. As a remainer herself, the Prime Minister has never really understood why people voted to leave. I am afraid that the EU has seemed to run rings around her.

It is hardly surprising that, after 40 years, we are now so intertwined with the EU that it is difficult to untangle. Those calling for a second referendum when the first has not been implemented should remember that during all those years—I have been here for nearly 30 of them —Parliament signed up to one treaty after another, without ever asking the people of our great country whether they wanted to sign away their sovereignty. Millions of Labour voters will feel utterly betrayed if Labour now backs a second referendum, and certainly one with “Remain” on the ballot paper.

I cannot vote for this deal. There are lots of things in it, as well as the backstop, that I cannot support. I expect the Prime Minister or another leader of the Government, if we cannot get a general election, to go and ask for something much better. If we cannot get that, I do not fear World Trade Organisation rules. There is hysterical fear-mongering going on about how we cannot leave on WTO terms. I would support that, and I think that that is what we will end up doing.