Uk’S Withdrawal from the European Union

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:54 pm on 13th March 2019.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 3:54 pm, 13th March 2019

I will. Back in 2017, we made it clear that we would respect the outcome of the referendum, and we set out in our manifesto what we would seek to negotiate if we were elected into government, which was an agreement that would have the benefits of the customs union and the single market. However, in that manifesto, we also said as a party that we would reject the Government’s red lines, rip up the White Paper and reject no deal. We lost that election, and because we lost we voted to trigger article 50, notwithstanding how we had voted in the referendum, and we allowed the Prime Minister to start the negotiations. Consistent with our manifesto, we conditionally said what deal we would accept when it came back.

We have now got to a hopeless end, and it is a hopeless end. To lose by 230 votes eight weeks ago and then to lose by 149 votes is a hopeless end. The Government cannot just blame others for that; they need to look at themselves and ask why it happened. In those circumstances, both the things that we ruled out in our manifesto—the Prime Minister’s red lines and no deal—are the only things on the table, which is why we support a public vote, to protect against those outcomes. I am proud that we are doing that at this stage in the exercise, and it is obvious why we need to do so.