[7th Allotted Day]

Part of Points of Order – in the House of Commons at 11:47 am on 11th January 2019.

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Photo of Jo Stevens Jo Stevens Labour, Cardiff Central 11:47 am, 11th January 2019

I absolutely agree with my right hon. Friend: it is astonishing. The refusal to work not just with the TUC and the unions but with Opposition Members to develop a negotiating strategy that would secure a deal in the interests of the whole of the UK and each of our four constituent nations has been grossly negligent. The strategy has not been one of strong leadership. Stubbornness and failure to listen and to engage are the hallmarks of weak leadership, and they have led this country into this complete mess.

The best course of action for the country’s future stability, economy and security would, of course, be to revoke article 50. I suspect that there are very many colleagues across the House who would privately accept that but who do not feel that they could openly commit to supporting revocation at the moment. However, there is no majority in this House or the country for no deal. In the absence of that, or a general election and change of Government, the right course of action must be to ask the electorate what they now think. I know that is what the majority of my constituents want, in the absence of revoking article 50. Nearly 90% of those who have contacted me have told me that. I know this because I have been asking them for their views since 2016, and they have been giving them to me. Every published poll in the past six months also confirms that.

People are allowed to change their minds. The referendum result in 2016 was not a result in perpetuity. In the words of one of the Government’s former Brexit Ministers: “It’s not a democracy if you can’t change your mind.” In Wales, we would never have had devolution and the creation of the National Assembly had we not had a second referendum, in which people did change their minds.

I will finish on this point. All the irresponsible, dangerous and inflammatory talk that we have heard in recent months about civil unrest, riots and treachery if we vote down this deal next week and have a people’s vote has to stop. Every time I come into this Chamber, I look at Jo’s shield and think of her bravery and determination during her time here, and what she must have faced in those final moments confronted by extreme right-wing violence. We cannot allow a small minority of fascist thugs to undermine our democracy. They are using Brexit for the advancement of their far-right ideology, and we all have to oppose it.

In the vote next week, each of us will make our own judgment as to what is right in the interests of our constituents and our country. I am very clear about what I feel is right, and I will vote against this deal.