If ever there were an advert for why we need a general election and why we have no confidence in this Government, it has been the speeches from Conservative Members today. They are so divorced from reality. Watching this crisis unfold, I have often been struck by how this process is being viewed by the people we represent. People in North West Durham and beyond voted leave and remain for a number of reasons. They had feelings of being left behind by the establishment, and of seeing their security dwindling and their communities being abandoned. They were worried that their rights were going to be eroded and that their businesses might close. Some wanted to take back control; some wanted to be part of something bigger. Those are all complex, individual reasons, but very few of my constituents have been satisfied by the way in which this Government have represented them in the negotiations with the EU. Instead, we are tangled up in the tensions between two factions of the Conservative party—the hard right and the centre right—and in the arbitrary red lines of the Government. We are in a shameful state, but it goes further than that.
The Government cannot now govern, and not just on our withdrawal from the EU. That is not a slogan; it genuinely reflects the position that we are in. Where are we at, as a country? In the north-east and in North West Durham—in fact, in all our communities—people are suffering. Their pay does not cover their bills, and the shambolic universal credit system makes them poorer, stigmatised and stressed. After eight years of austerity, this country is on its knees. An increasing number of people are homeless, many are destitute and some—as has been mentioned in a number of fantastic contributions—are even dying as a result of the system.
Do teachers in this country have confidence in this Government? Do nurses, doctors, firefighters, prison officers, those in private businesses waiting for a deal, those waiting for brown envelopes from the DWP to tell them whether they have been sanctioned, those deemed fit for work while ill, those who are homeless, or the 1950s women have confidence in this Government? I think not. The reality is out there and, you know what, I hope it pricks the conscience of the 100-plus Conservative MPs who decided that the Prime Minister was not fit to lead them just a few weeks ago, and of the similar number who agreed with us that the Brexit deal was a farce. Will they now stand up for all those people who are suffering?
The speeches from Conservative Members have been desperate; they are desperate to denigrate the Labour party because they are scared by the powerful arguments of the Leader of the Opposition. When those Members go through the Lobby tonight to say that they have confidence in this Government, they will be voting for more chaos and more austerity. They might as well be stepping over all those children going to school without food in their belly, stepping over the pensioners without the ability to heat their home and stepping over the homeless people on our streets. This will mean that they could not care less about those people. This country, our communities and working people deserve so much better. We deserve a different direction, and fast. We need a general election to get this lot out now.