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Exiting the European Union: Meaningful Vote

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:54 pm on 11th December 2018.

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Photo of Liz McInnes Liz McInnes Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 4:54 pm, 11th December 2018

I was one of the MPs down to speak yesterday, on what should have been the fourth day of the debate on the withdrawal agreement. Hundreds of constituents have contacted me about the agreement, with the vast majority —some 81%—urging me to vote against it. I wanted to articulate in my speech in that debate the reasons why the people I represent are so worried. They are concerned about jobs, the economy, security and our international reputation. I did not get my chance, though, and my constituents were denied a voice because, as we all know, yesterday’s debate just did not happen. I represent a constituency in which the majority—60%—voted to leave the EU in the referendum, yet the Prime Minister has achieved what seemed impossible two and a half years ago: she has united both sides of the referendum debate in Heywood and Middleton in opposition to her deal.

We have a Government in chaos. Last week, they were found to be in contempt of Parliament, but it seems that that means nothing. The Government have just carried on regardless. There is no clarity about when the debate will be resumed and the meaningful vote held. In a letter to her MPs on 25 November, the Prime Minister said that she had

“negotiated the best possible Brexit deal for the whole United Kingdom. It is now for MPs to decide: back this deal and honour the referendum result…or vote against it and take us back to square one”.

She also said:

“EU leaders have made it clear today that this is the only deal on the table.”

That was two weeks ago, so what has changed? How has the “best possible Brexit deal” and the “only deal” morphed into something over which the Prime Minister is now trailing around Europe seeking reassurances?

The Prime Minister said that to vote against the deal would take us back to square one. Well, square one seems a better place to be than where we are now. Right now, we are not even on the board.