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Eu: Withdrawal and Future Relationship (Motions)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:12 pm on 27th March 2019.

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Photo of Phil Wilson Phil Wilson Labour, Sedgefield 6:12 pm, 27th March 2019

I rise in support of motion (M), in the name of my right hon. Friend Margaret Beckett, which calls for a confirmatory vote by the British people on any Brexit deal. I will begin by saying why I have come to the conclusion that this should be put back to the people. I completely respect colleagues who have a different viewpoint from me, but this is a position that I hold passionately and with great sincerity. I know that those who disagree with me hold their views in the same way. However, I believe in my heart of hearts that the British people have the right to the final say on this country’s future direction.

We already have the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement, but today there is the possibility to decide on other options to negotiate with the EU and perhaps what will become another withdrawal agreement or deal. It is clear from the range of motions tabled that Brexit can take many forms, but about three years since the EU referendum, we now know what Brexit will look like if the Prime Minister’s deal gets through. My question is: how does that compare with what was promised in the referendum? Is it what the people voted for back then? The answer to both questions is that we will never know unless we ask them.

My experience is that the concept of Brexit is just that—a concept. It is an idea, a viewpoint, a general principle, such as “Leave means leave”. As those who adhere to the concept of “Leave means leave” try to give it depth or any kind of coherence, it falls apart into different schools of thought. Some actually believe that leave means leave, so they just want to leave. There are those who have given a bit more thought to the concept and belong to the Brexit school that teaches how to leave the EU on World Trade Organisation rules. There is the school that teaches how to do the Norway-plus option and schools that adhere to the customs union and the closest possible relationship with the single market.

There are so many different schools that teach how to do Brexit. To their adherents, they are all legitimate Brexits. They have one thing in common: they want to deliver Brexit, but none of them is Brexit. The only Brexit on offer is the Brexit deal negotiated by the Government with the EU. That now defines Brexit; it is Brexit. However, if after this process today, the House agrees with a different option from the one negotiated with the EU, that becomes Brexit. But the question still remains: how does it compare with the promises made in 2016? The people have the right to decide.