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[7th Allotted Day]

Part of Points of Order – in the House of Commons at 1:37 pm on 11th January 2019.

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Photo of Mike Gapes Mike Gapes Labour/Co-operative, Ilford South 1:37 pm, 11th January 2019

In the words of Ian Dury, “Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 2”. I gave the first part of this speech on 6 December, at column 1171. The additional five minutes I have today is its continuation —hon. Members will judge whether it is “What a Waste” or not.

I do not want to focus on foreign affairs, but I begin by pointing out, in response to the Government’s “global Britain” slogan and their assertion that we will be a free and independent country “again”, that we are a free and independent country today. We have had a very successful “global Britain” policy for decades. After all, it was Margaret Thatcher who brought in the European single market, which has been of such benefit to our economy, and the Labour Government of Tony Blair that made such an impact on the development of the European Union out of the European Economic Community we joined in 1973.

I want to say some things about the Labour party, and I want to say some things to the Labour party and to Labour voters and Labour party members all over the country. In 1975, as an undergraduate, I was putting out anti-Common Market leaflets on the Arbury estate in Cambridge the day before my final economics exam. I was campaigning for “Cambridge against the market”. We decided we would not be with the “Get Britain out” campaign because it included the National Front and racists and, of course, the Communist party. Stalinists are always happy to line up with the far right—the red shirts and the brown shirts. The Morning Star is doing the same at this very moment when it supports Brexit—as does that rape cult, the Socialist Workers party.

The Labour party is in a bizarre position, as was confirmed when I intervened on the shadow Home Secretary earlier. We are pursuing a Brexit which, according to a briefing issued by the office of the parliamentary Labour party earlier this week, is a “sensible” Brexit, whatever that is. The reality, as is known all over the country, is that there is no such thing as a “jobs first” Brexit. It is entirely about mitigating the damage.

I have to say that I do not believe any Government would have been able to negotiate anything very different from what the Prime Minister has negotiated with the EU27, because the EU is a rules-based, legally based institution in which the four freedoms are integral. They cannot be cherry-picked. Whether we are talking about a red cake with red cherries or a blue cake with blue cherries, the EU will not allow it. This deal, the backstop and everything else, is an essential part of preserving the integrity of the institutions of the European Union. Why should an organisation that we are proposing to leave give us better terms than it gives its members? That would be unprecedented.

We must therefore face reality. There is no socialist Brexit, there is no “jobs first” Brexit, and there is no better Brexit. The choice that we must face is this. Do we or do we not wish to go into the blindfold Brexit that is being put forward today, whereby we do not know the future terms of the trading relationship? It could be Canadafragilisticexpialidocious, or it could be Norway-plus-plus-plus-plus-plus, but we have no idea. The fact is that once we have passed this motion, if we do—and I am sure that it will go down—we shall be in a very dangerous, uncharted position, in which a right-wing Government in the future could take us into a job-cutting, deflationary or austerity Brexit. That is why I will be voting against it, and voting to stay in the European Union if I can, to revoke article 50 if we get the chance.