European Union (Withdrawal) Act

Part of Leaving the EU – in the House of Commons at 6:27 pm on 14th January 2019.

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Photo of Liam Fox Liam Fox The Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade 6:27 pm, 14th January 2019

I think that my right hon. and learned Friend, in making his points so succinctly, has just saved himself several hours of waiting. I believe that having a deal is preferable to no deal, but I am not one of those who takes the hyperbolic view that not having a deal would be cataclysmic to our economy. Yes, it may be disruptive, but it is entirely survivable for the UK economy. It is just not preferable, when it comes to the choice between having a deal and not having a deal, which is why I think it is advisable for the House to vote for this agreement.

There are, of course, Members of the House who want there to be no Brexit at all. I believe that would be a democratic disaster. It would be a betrayal of the commitments given by this House to respect the result of the EU referendum and, let me remind the 80% of the Members of the House who were elected on a promise to honour the result of the referendum, the manifesto commitments. There are many who say that democracy exists on the understanding that a voter can change their mind. That is undoubtedly true, but democratic consent by the people is also founded on the understanding that the result of the vote will be carried out. Failure to do so would undermine the trust of the people. Not only that, but it would be politically unacceptable, a betrayal of our principles and, potentially, a seismic and existential threat to our political system. We should not underestimate it. It would create a chasm of distrust between the electors and the elected of an unprecedented nature—a wilful destruction of the reputation of Parliament in the eyes of the people.