European Union (Withdrawal) Act

Part of Leaving the EU – in the House of Commons at 9:31 pm on 14th January 2019.

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Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman Conservative, Fareham 9:31 pm, 14th January 2019

I am grateful to be able to speak in this historic debate before what will be one of the most important votes of my career, if not my lifetime. It brings me no pleasure whatever to make this speech: I have never rebelled against the Conservative party and I have never taken a stance against my leader. But my duty to my constituents and my contract with the nation mean that I must speak frankly and vote with my conscience against this deal. It is the reason why I resigned as a Minister from the Department for Exiting the European Union in November.

The simple truth is that this deal is not Brexit. It is neither what a majority of voters in Fareham voted for in the referendum nor what 80% of voters backed at the general election. But we are being told that, yes, it does honour the referendum and take back control of our laws, our money and our borders. Call me a pesky lawyer, but that does not stand up to scrutiny. I have been called worse: a jihadi, an extremist, a racist. Most recently, I was referred to—by, it has to be said, my very good friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs—as a swinger at a party waiting for Pierce Brosnan to arrive. Mr Speaker, you will know that I got married about a year ago; I have to inform you that our relationship is going well and we have not quite got to that point.

The legal reality is very different from the slogans. The deal continues our subjugation to EU laws during the implementation period and the backstop: the UK will have no say whatever on those rules and regulations. After the backstop, we have no guarantee whatever that the UK will be able to diverge. The jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice will persist thereafter and our courts will not have the final say on many matters.

There have been pledges to end the free movement of people, but I do not believe that they stand up to scrutiny either. After exit day in March 2019, the free movement directive and its principles will substantially continue to apply. We have no promise, again, that free movement will categorically end after the implementation period—merely the promise of a labour mobility agreement. Mr Speaker, if you know what that means I would be grateful to hear your thoughts. I certainly do not—and that is after having worked for a year at the Brexit Department.

After we technically leave the EU in March, we will be legally bound to pay £39 billion for many years thereafter. For what? Nothing. We have failed to secure any guarantee that we will get a free trade agreement in return for the very large price we are paying.

My parents emigrated to the UK from Kenya and Mauritius in the 1960s. They were born under the British empire and admired the United Kingdom. The UK that inspired them was confident in the world—pioneering in statecraft, and fearless in the face of adversity: a Britain that led the way for others and contributed so much good to the world. That is the vision of Britain that I have inherited, and in which I profoundly believe. At this crossroads in our history, we are being fed a diet of doom and pessimism—a choice between surrender and catastrophe—but our nation is greater than that. We can salvage Brexit before it is too late. We can ditch this deal: we can honour the British people for our great nation.