[7th Allotted Day]

Part of Points of Order – in the House of Commons at 10:05 am on 11th January 2019.

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Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Shadow Home Secretary 10:05 am, 11th January 2019

I would like to thank my hon. Friend for his helpful intervention. Actually, the position of the Labour party was set out in the manifesto on which both he and I campaigned, and we are committed to a jobs-first Brexit that will not harm our economy. I repeat: we want to honour the referendum vote.

I remind the House that I will not take lectures from the Home Secretary on the iniquities of the EU. I have an immaculate record of voting against all measures of further EU integration. In fact, I remember very clearly voting against the vital clauses in the Maastricht treaty. The reason why I remember it is that at that time both Front Benches were in support of the Maastricht treaty, and those of us who wanted to vote against it had to stay up to the middle of the night to cast our votes, so I remember it very clearly. He should not lecture this side on what is problematic about the EU.

We campaigned in the referendum on remain and reform, and we do not resile from the fact that there are aspects of the EU that needed reform. Opposition Members do not want to see an excessively polarised debate. However, we are now resuming the debate after the longest parliamentary interruption in modern times, and Government Members ought to be a little embarrassed about this long interregnum in the debate and the fact that, even at this late stage, it seems that they will have great difficulty in getting their deal through.

I will deal with the issues that the Home Secretary has raised, but first I want to deal with issues of safety and security, because there is an argument that there is no more important a responsibility for the Government of the day than securing the safety and security of the United Kingdom. The Home Secretary will be aware that just this week two former MI6 and defence chiefs went on the record urging Conservative MPs to vote against this deal because it threatens national security. I put it to the Home Secretary that ex-heads of MI6 and ex-defence chiefs might know a little bit more about security than the Home Secretary or even myself.