UK’s Withdrawal from the EU

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 2:16 pm on 14th February 2019.

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Photo of Anna Soubry Anna Soubry Conservative, Broxtowe 2:16 pm, 14th February 2019

I will not, just because I am running out of time and I want to make several important points.

The Conservative party is the party of business. This party is the party of competence when it comes to the economy—[Interruption.] Oh yes, and history shows that a Conservative Government always leave office with the economy in a better state than when they inherited it, because we always have to clear up the mess made by a Labour Government. That is the simple fact and reality of history. However, will this great party be so reckless and go against all that we value in our principles by actually suggesting that we should leave without a deal in the face of overwhelming evidence? How many more car manufacturers—Ford, Toyota, Nissan—have to make it clear that if we leave without a deal, that will seriously impact the way that they do business? In the real world, that means our constituents will risk losing their jobs. Over 800,000 people work in just the automotive sector, never mind all the other millions who work in our manufacturing sector. Everybody with a scintilla of knowledge of the real world and of business and trade knows that the worst thing that could happen to our country is to leave without a deal. That is the view of the majority of Members of this place.

I gently say to the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, who is a thoroughly good and decent man, that his speech chilled me to the bone. He is a Conservative, yet he stood at that Dispatch Box ignoring the amendment that was passed that was tabled by my right hon. Friend Dame Caroline Spelman—a former chairman of the Conservative Party—and Jack Dromey for which 318 Members voted. The other amendment that was passed, which was tabled by my hon. Friend Sir Graham Brady, was passed with 317 votes in favour. It is therefore shameful that the Secretary of State spent almost the entirety of his speech addressing the latter, not the former, even though the former had won cross-party support and the support of more hon. Members.

However, my party is in hock to the party within the party: the ERG. As others have said, it is funded by the taxpayer and others, with its own leader and its own Whip. The Secretary of State stood up and tossed out red meat to keep the ERG on board, instead of doing what each and every one of us must do, which is to do what is right for our country. The right thing for our country is to be as one in rejecting no deal and standing by, as this party once did, the people of this country, their jobs, their futures and the prosperity of business and trade.