UK’s Withdrawal from the European Union

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 4:22 pm on 14th March 2019.

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Photo of Toby Perkins Toby Perkins Labour, Chesterfield 4:22 pm, 14th March 2019

I was struck, as I reflect on the huge frustration my constituents feel with the way this process is going, by the speech by Sir Christopher Chope, who is not in his place. He described our Government as a “laughing stock”—a laughing stock in Europe and in this country. I think about why that is. I think it is because of the path that he and his colleagues have taken this Government down. They have absolutely held this Government to ransom. Having argued for a long, long time for things that we all knew were not going to be achievable, they won the referendum and are now blaming the Government for failing to achieve that. As my hon. Friend James Frith said just a few minutes ago, the Prime Minister put in charge of these negotiations the very people who had promised us how easy this was going to be. Of course, they entirely failed to deliver on the referendum result and on what they had promised in the campaign.

I will support this motion to have a delay, but it occurs to me that Vote Leave said throughout the campaign that this would be “a careful change”, that there would be time for it to be made and we would not be leaving the EU until our future relationship was resolved. I am now confused as to why they seem to be in such a rush for us to leave, given that it is so clear that we have not got a deal on which we can agree.

As for what my constituents ask for, it seems that Labour’s deal fulfils the vote that 60% of Chesterfield constituents cast. It would enable us to continue trading with the customs union, but it would also ensure that we were not a part of the single market and we were able to have control on immigration. We all know that that was so powerful; it was the issue of immigration that enabled what had been previously a minority concern—the European Union—to become so powerful; the campaign was run on the issue.

Despite the fact that I hugely regret the fact that we are leaving the European Union, I will vote for Brexit and I will do so by voting for Labour’s deal. When I vote for Labour’s deal, I will be voting for something that would enable us to leave on 29 March. I will be able to go to my constituents and say, “If only the Government would back Labour’s deal, we would be able to leave the European Union on 29 March, as we have said all along.” It is important that that message gets across, because there are people on the Government Benches who suggest that the only way to fulfil the referendum result is to vote for the Government’s deal. We all know that there are other ways we could leave the European Union, if only the Government supported the Labour party deal.