Uk’S Withdrawal from the European Union

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:47 pm on 13th March 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Gethins Stephen Gethins Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) 4:47 pm, 13th March 2019

Just how much could we have saved had we taken that off the table; the Government had not taken the responsibility of taking no deal off the table as they should have done. If the hon. Gentleman wants to refer to that report, I should point out that it was also the report that said that, yes, a no-deal exit would be bad for our European partners but it would be worse for the UK. That is something he put his name to, as did other Brexiteer colleagues from across the House. This said that they would be prepared to hit the UK economy—they would be prepared for that hit—and he signed up to that very report. I know what was in that report.

It is strange that all we hear about now is not the benefits of Brexit; rather, we are limited to Ministers telling us that it will not be that bad. I heard one of the increasingly poor excuses last night, which was that we are in a Parliament of remainers. I am a remainer whose constituency and nation voted to remain, and it certainly does not feel like a Parliament of remainers to me. The extremists will never be happy.

This is about damage limitation. The Brexiteers, including the Secretary of State for International Trade and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, have blown it. I will not vote to make my constituents poorer and less well off because of their mistakes. Let me remind them that it is through the single market that we are wealthier, through its rules in areas such as workers’ rights and parental rights that we are fairer, through joint action on climate change that we are greener and through work with the European Medicines Agency, sadly departed, and air-quality agreements that we are healthier.

The impact is being felt now. Even yesterday, a report showed that £1.2 trillion—an eye-watering sum—had been relocated from the UK, mainly to areas like Dublin. It is no wonder that similar-sized independent and sovereign states such as Denmark, Ireland and Finland see their futures as part of the European Union.

I hope that Dame Caroline Spelman will press her amendment to a vote tonight. That is important because we need to have no deal taken off the table, given the untold damage that it will do to public services and to our democracy. We have two different views. One is of a state being like our neighbours, and being joined, pooling our sovereignty and working together as an independent sovereign state. The other is of a UK that is isolationist, poorer, more remote and going backwards. Nothing emphasises that more than the fact that the Government have not taken no deal off the table. Let us push the amendment and take no deal off the table tonight.