[5th Allotted Day]

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Act – in the House of Commons at 7:13 pm on 9th January 2019.

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Photo of Jo Swinson Jo Swinson Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrats, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs) 7:13 pm, 9th January 2019

We are trying to unpick a Union we have been in for 40 years. Look at the chaos that is causing. The last thing we need is the chaos of trying to unpick a Union of 300 years. If this experience tells us anything, it is how disastrous that would be.

We need a people’s vote. Two and a half years on, we know that leaving the European Union will not make us richer. It will not bring in £350 million a week for the NHS, despite what that bus said, and it will not be the

“easiest trade deal in human history,” despite what the International Trade Secretary said. Those were fantasies of the leave campaign. Brexit has become a national embarrassment. It will make us poorer, it will hurt our NHS and it will weaken our Union.

Perhaps strangely, I have recently found myself agreeing with both the former Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab, and the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman is right that the Prime Minister’s deal is worse than staying in the EU—we would be bound by the rules but lose our say over them—but the Prime Minister is right that this is the best Brexit on offer.

I despair at the arrogance of those, whether they sit on the Conservative Benches or the Labour Front Bench, who claim that they could negotiate a better deal. They live in the land of make-believe. Here in the real world, there are no magic beans to put food on the table and there are no pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. Even my five-year-old could tell them that unicorns are not real. And, frankly, I am horrified by those who are so cavalier that they countenance no deal as a serious option. How lovely it must be to live in an ivory tower, claiming French residency or setting up investment funds in Dublin as the poorest people in society pay the price for an ideological Brexit.

Quite simply, there is no deal that will ever be as good as being members of the European Union; there is no Brexit that works for the whole United Kingdom; there is no Brexit that keeps our economy strong and jobs safe; there is no Brexit that gives us first-class public services. We need a way out of this mess. We should give people the chance to choose, in full knowledge of the Brexit deal on offer, what future they want for their children. I urge the House to vote down this deal and call for a people’s vote.