[7th Allotted Day]

Part of Points of Order – in the House of Commons at 1:07 pm on 11th January 2019.

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Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Labour, Edinburgh South 1:07 pm, 11th January 2019

May I wish you, Mr Speaker, and every Member of this House, a very merry Christmas? Or that is indeed what I would have done had I made this speech back in December when we were supposed to have concluded this debate. We have done nothing over the past month apart from give the Government an opportunity to ramp up the rhetoric of no deal, which even the Foreign Secretary admitted this morning may not be an advisable choice for this country.

Never in the recent history of this Parliament has the next few days been so important to this country and, indeed, to my constituents. Many in this House forget that they were sent here for two reasons: the first and most important one is to represent their constituents, but the second is to look after the best interests of the country. There has been lots of debate and argument, but never has the sound of the Division bell been held in such significance as it will be on Tuesday as we find out which direction this country will take.

I say to those across this House who know they want to do the right thing, but whom the rules of the game of this House preclude from so doing, that they should do the right thing for the country. Brave politicians break the rules. Brave politicians smash the rules and do what is in the best interests of the country. This Government certainly want to smash the rules. They are in danger of being the first Government in history to wilfully and knowingly make the country poorer. This is the first Government in history who proudly admit that they will make my constituents poorer. Surely that cannot be correct. Surely nobody voted to be poorer. We need to stop this catastrophe now, which means voting against the shoddy, blind, worst-of-all-worlds Brexit deal and putting this back to the people in a public vote. Let us have more democracy, not less.

We are 77 days away—the stakes could not be higher—and all the major questions as to the future are still unanswered. It is time for the Government in particular to start being honest with the country, but the Prime Minister cannot be honest with the country for fear of her own Back Benchers. The Home Secretary today told the House that we can have all the migration we wish for in all the sectors that require it, plus uncapped international student immigration, plus trade deals where migration will be at the top of the agenda, and still cut net migration down to the tens of thousands. That is disingenuous to the people of this country. These deceptions must stop, because they are not in the national interest.

The first thing the Government could do in the national interest is rule out a no-deal scenario. We know that any deal or agreement, in particular no deal and the agreement that is on the table, will make our country much poorer than what we currently enjoy as a member of the EU. That is where the Government’s problem comes in. There are two choices: to leave the EU with no deal or to stick as closely as possible to the EU institutions to reduce the pain, suffering and cost of a no-deal Brexit. What the Prime Minister has done is to set red lines that means she does neither. She has therefore united leavers and remainers in this Chamber against the deal.

Now I come to the vacuous soundbite of taking back control of our borders, laws and money. I wish I had slightly more time, Mr Speaker, because I would like to explain why the deal on the table means that we will cede control of our borders, laws and money more than we have at the moment. The deal does not include the 80% of our economy that is made up by services such as financial services and higher education, which are critical to jobs in my constituency. I say that no unicorns is better than bad unicorns for this country.

This issue goes much wider than the economy. It is about EU citizens; it is about our outlook to the world; it is about driving change in Europe; it is about taking our place in the world as a country that wants to work together with others. We cannot achieve what we want to achieve if we are an isolationist nation. The notion of global Britain—I am glad that a Foreign Office Minister is here—is as empty a slogan as “Take back control.” Let us be bold. Let us take this deal on the table, give it back to the people in a people’s vote and let them decide whether this is the kind of Brexit they wanted. If they want to save the country from the self-harm we are about to inflict on ourselves, they could simply vote remain and keep us in the European Union.