Uk’S Withdrawal from the EU

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:09 pm on 27th February 2019.

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Photo of Richard Drax Richard Drax Conservative, South Dorset 5:09 pm, 27th February 2019

It is a pleasure to follow Yvette Cooper, whom I respect enormously. She always speaks in a measured tone. I take her point about the language and how we have to be very careful in this place about how we address one another. We should also speak outside in measured tones to ensure that we try to get the best deal that we possibly can.

Before I start, I just say that I have been accused, often by my own side, of being a zealot, a right-winger, and all these things. I am not. Let me repeat: I and my hon. Friends are MPs who want the best deal we can get for our country. None of us wants to leave the EU without a deal—not one, contrary to popular opinion. We accept that to leave with a deal is the best option we can possibly get. But we have to ask ourselves, how do we get to that point?

We had a vote in June 2016, and that referendum result was clear. The instruction to everyone in this House was to leave the EU—not half in, half out, a bit here, a bit there. The instruction was clear: to leave the EU. We had two years—two long years—to negotiate a deal, and we are now where we are. I would not be, and never would presume to be, Prime Minister, but had I been—and I do not just speak with hindsight—then when article 50 was invoked I would have instructed my Ministers to prepare for no deal immediately, and to publicise to the public exactly what they were doing, while at the same time trying to strike a deal with the EU.