European Union (Withdrawal) Act

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 5:28 pm on 12th March 2019.

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Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice and Home Affairs), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 5:28 pm, 12th March 2019

Yes. I have been to Crossmaglen. My mother went to school in Carrickmacross, and when I was a wee girl, she taught me the poem:

“From Carrickmacross to Crossmaglen,

There are more rogues than honest men.”

I am not suggesting that that is the case any longer, and I am not suggesting that that is because the right hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip visited. Joking aside, however, as somebody with an Irish mother and a family who still live in the Republic, albeit very close to the border, and who run businesses close to the border, I am acutely aware of the threat that this deal—this Brexit—poses to the peace process and the threat it poses to the economy on the island of Ireland, so I do not say that I do not understand why the backstop is there.

I said earlier today about what I feel about the measly assurances the Prime Minister spent two months getting from Brussels. I know there are many people in this Chamber who have very good reason to be concerned that there should be a backstop if the deal goes ahead. However, I still make no apology for voting against this deal, because voting against this deal does not mean no deal; it gives us the opportunity to do what we should have done all along when we realised what a disaster this was, which was to hold a second referendum given that the people across the United Kingdom know the reality of Brexit—not the promises made by the right hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, which are unable to be fulfilled, but the reality of Brexit. I believe that if people see the reality of Brexit and the reality of remain, they will choose remain.

I am also voting against this deal because I know that, if this deal goes through, what will happen is that we will simply move into another lengthy period of even more difficult negotiations, with no guarantee whatsoever that any trade deal will be reached at the end of the negotiations. Even if there is, I know from the evidence that any trade deal reached will not be advantageous to my country.

The Prime Minister has said:

“I have been clear throughout the process that my aim is to bring the country back together.”— [Official Report, 26 February 2019;
Vol. 655, c. 167.]

I simply do not accept that. This process has not been about the national interest; it has been about keeping the Conservative and Unionist party together and keeping the Prime Minister in power for as long as possible.