UK’s Withdrawal from the European Union

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 3:53 pm on 14th March 2019.

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Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour/Co-operative, Swansea West 3:53 pm, 14th March 2019

I wonder why the Conservative Benches are so empty. Is it because Conservative Members are all at the Uxbridge Unicorn Tavern being sold Golden Brexit beer? And when they taste it, does it taste so awful that they spit it out in the street, only for Boris the barman to say, “No, no, no —you ordered it, you’ve got to drink it”?

I stand here speaking on behalf of people in Swansea who voted leave because they were told they were voting for good things such as more money, more trade, more jobs and more control. They are now finding that they are not going to get any of those things. They are going to have to spend another £40 billion on the divorce bill, and the economy is shrinking by 10%. Trade is going to shrink, and we are going to be outside Team EU when we negotiate with China, with Trump and with other countries. We are going to get a worse deal, not a better deal. They voted to control immigration, but immigration will not be controlled with an open border in Northern Ireland. Of course, the risk that we will not have an open border may also put the peace process at risk.

Frankly, any Brexit will make us poorer, weaker, more divided and isolated and will risk environmental rights and workers’ rights, so to go ahead with it, given all the knowledge that we now have, would be a collective act of wilful negligence. It would be a betrayal of those who voted leave and a crime against democracy not to give the people the opportunity to judge whether they are getting what they ordered. If we do not give them that opportunity or just simply revoke article 50, we will never be forgiven. Some say that there will be anger if there is another vote—a vote on the deal as opposed to a vote on the principle—but people will be completely enraged if, having voted leave for more money, more jobs and so on, they find that they lose their jobs. There will be turmoil and carnage, and we will never be forgiven.

We have had referendums throughout Britain over the years, including on Wales, Scotland, mayoral elections and so on, and the people have subsequently changed their minds. In the referendum on whether to have a mayor in Manchester, the people voted not to have one, but the Government imposed one. These referendums are advisory, and the Brexit one was characterised by cheating, lying, betrayal and broken promises. In the name of democracy, the people expect to have a vote and to move forward.

It may be the case that we cannot reach an agreement, and it is obvious that people do not agree with the current deal, because there is either too little or too much alignment with the EU. That is why we keep failing to get an agreement. We are running towards the end, and if we say, “Let’s have an extension,” what if the EU says, “You can’t have an extension because you cannot make your mind up”? The choice will then be between crashing out without a deal, with all the carnage, medicine and food shortages and laws not working that that would entail, or revoking article 50 and continuing as usual. I have supported a public vote on the deal to give the people the final say, but if we end up with the choice that I just outlined, we need to revoke article 50 and stay where we are. The people now know how good the EU is, what a good deal we are getting and what we stand to lose.

In conclusion, we need to have faith in the people to decide on what is now on the table. If they do not want it, we should keep the existing deal, which is a very good one.