EU Withdrawal Agreement

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 4:58 pm on 18th December 2018.

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Photo of Wera Hobhouse Wera Hobhouse Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 4:58 pm, 18th December 2018

As I said earlier, today we are talking about EU membership. [Interruption.] The Liberal Democrats believe in the Union of the United Kingdom. [Interruption.] I believe that it is a sign of integrity and intelligence to reconsider a referendum result—and by all means let the Scottish people have another look at that decision. [Interruption.] If people want to confirm their previous decision, that is absolutely fine by me as well. I believe that there is nothing undemocratic about asking for confirmation or clarification. It is clear that leave voters were split when they voted to leave. There are those who were happy to leave the EU without a deal and who now feel betrayed by the Prime Minister’s deal, and there are those who are happy to support it. The current divisions are most profound among those two camps.

Referendums need not be divisive. They only become so when promises are made that cannot be delivered. The 2016 referendum was divisive because promises were made that could not be delivered. Now Brexit fantasies are hitting Brexit realities. It is therefore not inherently the fault of the Prime Minister that a bad deal was negotiated. Frankly, no other Prime Minister would have been able to reconcile the incompatible demands of the Brexit vote. There is no good Brexit deal. Parliament knows that, and it is right to vote down the Prime Minister’s deal.

The most democratic thing to do now is to return the question to the people, but this time a referendum should be based on facts and not on fantasies. The Prime Minister should stop being afraid of democracy, allow her vote to take place this week, and allow Parliament to do its job and move forward to a people’s vote.