[9th Allotted Day]

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Act – in the House of Commons at 1:58 pm on 15th January 2019.

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Photo of Nick Thomas-Symonds Nick Thomas-Symonds Shadow Solicitor General, Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Security) 1:58 pm, 15th January 2019

I want to make some progress.

I made it clear in response to an intervention that my constituency of Torfaen voted to leave. I respect everyone who voted. In good faith, and in line with their wishes, I voted to trigger article 50 to start the process of our withdrawal. I wish there were a withdrawal agreement worthy of wide support across this House. I wish there were a political declaration that actually did point a way to a future that secured our economy, our jobs and our futures, and that it was not the meaningless text—the leap in the dark—that it actually is. Now, more than ever, we need to unite the country away from fractious debate and towards a shared vision of our future.

The Prime Minister says she wants to unite, but all she has done is divide. She failed to unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU citizens at the outset, which would have been the right thing to do, creating good will on both sides. Her red lines created more problems than they solved, and she has negotiated issues in an order and a way that made a backstop inevitable. The Prime Minister has had two years to reach out across the House for consensus, but she has failed to do so. Instead of speaking to others, she has stayed in her bunker. Now she only speaks at the concrete walls, unable to deliver the changes needed.

This country deserves so much better than this totally inadequate agreement. We hoped for more in the 916 days since the Prime Minister first stood on the steps of No. 10 with what have proved to be completely empty promises. I stand here today, nearly four years after I was first elected, knowing that we can and must do better at this key moment in our history. For that reason, the Prime Minister’s deal should be voted down by this House.