European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:48 pm on 29th January 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Chair, Draft Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill Committee 4:48 pm, 29th January 2019

I am short of time now, so I ask my hon. Friend to allow me to continue.

As no deal looms, just think of the human cost. Hundreds of young people like the single mums on my council estates got apprenticeships, then well-paid work in manufacturing, and now their jobs are at risk. Voting no to no deal means that we must agree a deal. The longer the uncertainty continues, the harder it gets for business. Stockpiling is costly and inefficient—the cost comes off the bottom line, and in the end that costs jobs. Just-in-time supply chains will be “not-in-time” with any hold-up at the border, and some factories are already stopping production to limit the disruption.

If we agree that no deal is not an option, then it is incumbent on all party leaders to get round the table—and I think I heard the Leader of the Opposition say today that he would. The Malthouse initiative is an example of a new contribution to break the deadlock. But to negotiate any new deal with the EU will take time and cause an inevitable delay, and I am with the Leader of the House in trying to keep delay to a minimum. The Leader of the Opposition does not seem to have read my amendment because he thinks that it calls for a delay. It does not, because time costs money for business.

We know that there is a majority for “no to no deal” in this Parliament because it was voted on as part of the Finance Bill, but the sheer complexity of that put some people off, including me. So this is a simple vote on whether colleagues support no deal or not. As the commentators say, it is not “processy”. I am surprised that, having been defeated on this issue once, the Government might still want to whip against this amendment —but then, these are not normal times in politics.

The public are weary with the Brexit debate. It is not quick and painless, as promised. They want us to come together in the national interest, and we can do that by agreeing that no to no deal means that there has to be a deal. I am not a natural rebel. Indeed, I do not accept that label as someone supporting something that commands a majority in this House. I see that the Speaker’s chaplain is here to remind us all that we need to be respectful. I am a peacemaker, and I urge all parties in the House to come together in an outbreak of pragmatism and to agree a deal. To vote for my amendment commits us all to that quest.