United Kingdom’S Withdrawal from the European Union

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:06 pm on 29th March 2019.

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Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow Conservative, Taunton Deane 1:06 pm, 29th March 2019

I absolutely 100% agree. Yes, 17.4 million people voted to leave and yes there was a roar for change, but more than 16 million people gave a yell to be noticed as well. That indicates that we need compromise. We have had nearly three years of debate in this place. I ask colleagues this: how many people have really changed their position? The polarisation is frankly disturbing.

Today, let us demonstrate that we can take one small step for Parliament and one giant step for the UK and the men and women of this nation by passing the withdrawal agreement—the legally binding agreement that sets out the UK’s departure from the EU bloc, that fits with EU rules and that involves the longer extension to 22 May. That is a legal right, as the Attorney General clearly outlined, and it takes us straight to the Bill, which was also touched on by my right hon. Friend Mr Duncan Smith.

Let us not forget that both Labour and the Conservatives committed to honouring the results of the referendum. I ask right hon. and hon. Members on both sides: can we really countenance voting against Brexit on the day when Brexit was meant to happen? I find that extraordinary. By separating the agreement from the declaration, which sets out the framework for the future relationship, we can go on and continue to discuss what type of Brexit we really want, and it has to be something that we can all live with. I still firmly believe the PM’s deal was a good one. She has fought doggedly and determinedly—I do not think anyone can disagree with that—and I believe that she has come up with a very comprehensive deal, which fundamentally is good.

I voted in the indicative votes and did what people may think is a strange thing: I voted aye to two completely contrasting things—a closer relationship with the customs union and a relationship with the European economic area and the European Free Trade Association—because I felt that I had to indicate that we needed to reach consensus in the House. Neither was my favourite, and neither was as good as the Prime Minister’s deal. Today, at least let us get this over the line. Let us discuss all the other permutations later. Let us demonstrate to the nation that we can all work together, at least today. Let us make it, step by step. I say this to my children and to my husband, who is not very well and who is watching this at home: step by step, all things are possible. As the sun shines on a glorious spring day in Taunton Deane, let us bring some of that sunshine to the rest of the nation and vote for this today.