Eu: Withdrawal and Future Relationship (Motions)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:48 pm on 27th March 2019.

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Photo of Ruth Cadbury Ruth Cadbury Labour, Brentford and Isleworth 6:48 pm, 27th March 2019

It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend Dr Williams.

I campaigned to remain not because I thought the EU was perfect, but because I inherently believe that it is better, in a 21st century world dominated by a few large blocs, to be a member of the club of our nearest neighbours, the largest and therefore the most powerful trading bloc in the world. Through our membership, we are influencing from within, sharing the costs, trading in goods and services without friction, keeping the peace on our continent and having the clout to negotiate.

I am old enough to remember, even though I was too young to vote, what being British was like before the UK joined the common market: visas to go on holiday across the channel and currency restrictions; British construction workers having to travel for work in Germany to support the German construction boom. Right now, as of this week, we get full access to EU markets, supporting world-class manufacturing jobs in Britain. We get the right to travel, work, live and love in 27 other EU countries, a right that we and millions of people, particularly those under 18 in 2016, will lose. We are already seeing the impact of the uncertainty of Brexit on a whole range of businesses in my constituency, including the growing creative sector. As night follows day, before too long we will see cuts in tax revenues leading to yet more cuts to public services, whichever party is in government.

The referendum was advisory—a simple yes or no—with little information and many lies. I voted against triggering article 50 because I felt that we should have sorted out the nature of our leaving the EU before triggering the two-year clock, so that we did not do what we are doing this week and next, scrabbling around to avoid crashing out. Let us not forget the economic and reputational consequences for this country of triggering article 50.

Many people challenge me on the manifesto phrase about respecting the results of the referendum. Well, I do respect the reasons why most people who voted leave did so—because of the lies, from which the authors distanced themselves immediately afterwards. I will be voting for motion (M) in the name of my right hon. Friend Margaret Beckett for the simple reason that any deal passed by this House—the Labour position, Norway, a customs union or the PM’s deal—needs to be fully and publicly ratified by the people, not in another advisory vote, as was the case in 2016, but this time in a binding vote. As my hon. Friend Phil Wilson said, people should have the chance to change their mind from leave to remain, or indeed, from remain to leave. Although my constituency voted to remain, I would probably take the same position even if my constituency was a leave-voting area because of my duty to my country.