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When my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was winding up the debate yesterday evening, she said that our country could ultimately make a success of no deal—although she of course was emphasising that she did not believe that that was the best outcome. That was before the vote. The outcome of the vote a few minutes later is one to which the Prime Minister certainly must respond.
The feeling in this House—432 Members, of whom I was one—is that the Prime Minister’s deal, however good she thinks it is, is a bad deal, and I have heard nothing from the Prime Minister that implies that she accepts the verdict given by the House last night that her deal is a bad deal. The Prime Minister was right to anticipate such a scenario. In her Lancaster House speech two years ago, she feared that the European Union would only offer us a bad deal—a punishment deal, as she put it. She therefore emphasised that no deal would be better than a bad deal, and she emphasised all the benefits that come from a no deal—including our ability to trade freely across the world and our ability to be able to enter into a new economic model—and from being masters of our own destiny as an independent nation. Those were the benefits of no deal that she set out. Obviously she, like everyone else, wanted to get a good deal. As we have not got a good deal, I plead with my right hon. Friend to ensure that she does not close the option of no deal and, indeed, intensifies preparations for no deal. That is the best way of concentrating the minds of those in the European Union that we are serious about an alternative.
If someone goes into a negotiation and says, “The only alternatives are to accept the deal or stay in the European Union”, what will happen? The European Union is holding us to ransom. We need to be saying that we are confident, we believe in ourselves and we can make a great success of no deal. Unfortunately, that has not been the negotiating stance of the Prime Minister and her advisers, and we are suffering as a consequence.
Last Saturday, I had a public meeting in my constituency attended by more than 200 people. A lot of anxiety was expressed about whether the Brexit we have been promised will be delivered. It was great to hear the Prime Minister reasserting her commitment to deliver Brexit, but if she does not deliver that with the deal that was rejected last night, how will she deliver it if she rejects the no-deal alternative? My constituents were worried that they could see the referendum commitment to leaving the European Union somehow being undermined by the Prime Minister and the Government. That in turn was undermining their trust.