[9th Allotted Day]

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Act – in the House of Commons at 5:37 pm on 15th January 2019.

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Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Conservative, Reigate 5:37 pm, 15th January 2019

Thank you for calling me, Mr Speaker. I am amazed to make it into the top 50.

I want to make three points. First, I agree with Derek Twigg and my hon. Friend Mr Bacon about the attitude towards the leave vote. It was not some cry of anguish or expression of concern. It was a decision. We gave the people the decision and they took it.

The second point is about the preparation for no deal. I am obliged to the anonymous civil servant who concluded his piece in The Telegraph on 28 December as follows:

“An enormous effort by thousands of hardworking civil servants has been made to ensure that if we leave the EU without a deal, ‘crashing out’
over a ‘cliff-edge’
is simply not going to be an option, and it is purely a political decision not to make this clear to the public and nervous backbench MPs. But if the Government was frank with Parliament and the country”— we have authorised £4.2 billion of expenditure on this, by the way—

“what justification would be left for its disastrous Withdrawal Agreement? What would Remainers do without a Project Fear? They would need to think up convincing positive arguments for staying in the EU, something that has so far proved beyond them.”

The final point is about defence and intelligence. I know that my right hon. and gallant Friend Sir Nicholas Soames has taken an extremely dim view of Lord Guthrie and Sir Richard Dearlove and the letter they have written to Conservative association chairmen, and he is perhaps right to wear the expression of an outraged Bateman cartoon in response to their behaviour, but their letter contained a real concern. Even my right hon. and gallant Friend was not able to address—his remarks last Friday were not time-limited—the substance of what they are warning about and all the issues over the common security and defence policy and the rest contained in the European acquis. We would do well to pay attention.