[7th Allotted Day]

Part of Points of Order – in the House of Commons at 2:19 pm on 11th January 2019.

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Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 2:19 pm, 11th January 2019

What excellent timing, Mr Speaker, because the right hon. Lady has just said—I think—that Labour does want to end free movement, without then explaining how it will deliver frictionless trade with no more barriers than we currently have, which is Labour’s policy, even though she knows the European Union will never accept that. I do not think we will take any lessons on consistency from the Opposition.

We have had an excellent debate today and I commend all hon. Members who have spoken. It is a shame that the shadow Home Secretary is not in her place for the end of the debate. I thank Emily Thornberry for her reference to one of my favourite childhood films, “Lassie Come Home”. Of course in that story, Lassie was given to a member of the aristocracy, the Duke of Rudling, but Lassie was not happy and she broke free, without any kind of referendum, and came home. There is a lesson for all of us.

Today’s debate has focused on immigration and the central point, made so eloquently by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, is that leaving the EU allows the Government, for the first time in almost 40 years, to respond to public concern by restoring sovereign control over immigration policy. Part of that, of course, will be to be generous to EU citizens who live among us and contribute so magnificently to our national life.

If the shadow Home Secretary had been here, I would have reassured her, as I do the hon. Members for Ealing Central and Acton (Dr Huq) and for Oxford West and Abingdon (Layla Moran) and others who raised the rights of EU citizens in this country. Part two of the withdrawal agreement describes how EU citizens currently living in the UK will enjoy broadly the same rights after we leave. Indeed, if we leave without a deal, the Government have made it clear that our position will be the same. While the shadow Home Secretary was correct to remind us that we are talking about the lives of real people—our friends, colleagues and neighbours—I respectfully suggest that it does not help to say that there is any doubt whatsoever about the status of EU citizens, when in fact there is no doubt. Mrs Lewell-Buck spoke passionately about the effect of uncontrolled migration on her constituency and how it risked dividing communities. She, along with many Government Members, will therefore understand the significance of restoring parliamentary sovereignty.

We have not talked just about migration today. I commend my right hon. Friend Sir Nicholas Soames, my hon. Friend Sir Bernard Jenkin, my right hon. Friend Mr Francois and my hon. Friends the Members for Romford (Andrew Rosindell), for Rochford and Southend East (James Duddridge), for Southend West (Sir David Amess), for Bosworth (David Tredinnick) and for Mole Valley (Sir Paul Beresford) for emphasising the obligation that falls on all of us to honour the referendum decision. Although I did not hear all those speeches, one of the most powerful contributions came from my hon. Friend Julia Lopez, who said that if we do not deliver Brexit, it will confirm people’s deepest fears about the conceit of the political class.

To her credit, when the shadow Home Secretary was here, she was clear that we have to honour the referendum vote. What the Government say to Opposition Members is, “If you really do want to honour the vote, stop playing parliamentary games and remember that leave-voting Labour voters will never forgive the Labour party if it uses parliamentary procedures in a way that ends up stopping Brexit.”

I say to the hon. Members for Ealing Central and Acton and for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger) and others who called for a second referendum that they risk doing profound damage to the integrity of our political system. It cannot be right to ask the British people to vote again in the hope of producing a different result. They should listen to the wise words of my hon. Friend Michael Tomlinson, who talked about the breach of trust there would be between politicians and the people who gave them their jobs if we failed to honour the referendum result.