It is a pleasure to follow Stewart Malcolm McDonald. I strongly agree with him that, often, we recognise democracy only in its breach.
The Government’s decision to prevent this House from voting on and debating their deal is reckless and ideological. It is reckless because it pushes that vote closer towards the no-deal deadline, and it is ideological because the Government have chosen to focus on criticism from just one perspective—those who dislike the backstop—not least the ERG group on their own Back Benches. Yet there are far more significant problems with this deal—problems that hundreds of my constituents have contacted me about and that I would have had the chance to articulate had the Government not pulled the debate and vote on these measures.
First, the deal guarantees no long-term certainty for customs arrangements, which is so important for firms such as BMW at Cowley in my constituency with a highly complex supply chain. Secondly, it fails to secure processes for regulatory alignment in the future, so no block on our country becoming the polluted, precariously employed, deregulated man of Europe. Finally, we still have no certainty for our EU friends and neighbours. I have still had no response from the Prime Minister about whether failure to exercise EEA treaty rights could be used to deny settled status, and we still have no certainty over immigration procedures for the scientists, researchers, doctors, nurses and other workers who are so desperately needed in my constituency and, indeed, across our country.
The Government should be seeking to build consensus on these and other issues, not tacking to the political right. If this Government cannot or will not renegotiate the deal in a sensible rather than ideological direction and they are not willing to stand aside then they should not rule out any option to inject democracy into this process.
I counsel Members in this House to exercise caution. I have heard some Members, and even some Ministers, describe another referendum as “a politicians’ vote” even though they know that it may turn out to be the only route to take to resolve an otherwise irresolvable impasse. I have heard others castigate what they call an elite establishment that they form part of themselves.
Last week, we saw the Leave. EU campaign present George Soros, of all people, as part of an imaginary conspiracy to thwart Brexit. The unpleasant insinuation was very clear. Members in this place must not allow themselves to become carriers for those seeking to stoke division among the British people. The rise in hate crime that has scarred our communities must be stemmed and we, with our privilege of political power, must never shirk our responsibility to reject that hate.