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Section 1 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019

Part of Exiting the European Union (Sanctions) – in the House of Commons at 4:54 pm on 9th April 2019.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Chair, Committee on Exiting the European Union 4:54 pm, 9th April 2019

The right hon. Gentleman points to one of the other truths about this process, which some people were sadly unwilling to acknowledge in campaigning to leave. The fact that they never had a plan has been exposed for all to see. I have learned over two and a half years just how much the complexity of these relationships means to businesses, companies and individuals the length and breadth of the land.

I think people knew why they voted in the way they did—no one is saying they did not—but what they were offered did not and does not exist. Therefore, is it not time for us to put that truth back to the British people? Especially as the more time that passes, the more the mandate from the referendum of June 2016 will inevitably age.

I do not know whether the British people have changed their mind, but I have come to the conclusion that we should now ask them whether they wish to confirm their original decision in light of the real choice that confronts the country, and not the fantasy that was offered three years ago. If we agree to do that we could move on because, however long the extension that is granted, and we must hope and pray in the national interest that we get one tomorrow, the continuing drama, the anger referred to by Conservative Members—I acknowledge that anger, which Mr Paterson spoke about with real passion—and the uncertainty could finally be brought to a conclusion in the capable hands of the British people.