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European Union (Withdrawal)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:07 pm on 3rd September 2019.

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Photo of Gordon Marsden Gordon Marsden Shadow Minister (Education) 9:07 pm, 3rd September 2019

So, it has come to this tonight: the new Prime Minister and his Ministers have had not just their competence, but their good faith so destroyed across the House that this radical but necessary step to preserve parliamentary democracy and our futures has been taken. Anyone who heard either the Leader of the House or, indeed, the way in which the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster rattled away at a merry pace will recall the old words:

“The louder he talked of his honour, the faster we counted our spoons.”

The truth of the matter is that no deal would drive the NHS into the arms of Donald Trump. No deal would be no good for the people in my constituency who are now experiencing unemployment at twice the national average. No deal would be no good for the people with the desperate medical issues that Dr Whitford talked about earlier.

The list of warnings about a no-deal Brexit grows longer. Warnings about the supply and prices of fresh food, essential medicines, and chaos on the roads and at ports after Halloween come not from Marxists, Trotskyists, or left-wingers, but from such radical organisations as the British Retail Consortium and the Road Haulage Association.

This is no longer just about Brexit or even whether people voted leave or remain; it is about the United Kingdom’s future as a progressive democracy. We really must take that into account, but we also have to take into account the situation of individual constituents. A man wrote to me and said:

“My father is rather ill these days and relies on a variety of medication. I am concerned what the impact of a no-deal Brexit would have on the supply of this medication.”

We have heard from those who have no axe to grind that that is absolutely the case.

I have had a letter, as many of us will have had, from an ordinary constituent:

“Please can you help with a no deal Brexit as having our NHS is as important to us as food on our plates. It’s hard to survive as it is…I cut back on food and power, have no holidays”.

“Please sort this out.” That is an ordinary constituent who is engaged not with the finer constitutional points that the Leader of the House manages to trim on a sixpence, but with the everyday bread and butter of daily living in a town like many others in the north of England where people feel left behind and vulnerable, and where to satisfy the interests of a small group of cronies around the Prime Minister this Government are trying to stamp down on everything that is said.

There is no evidence, not even a sniff, of the Government having presented any proposals to the EU. The Prime Minister fancies himself a classicist. Well, what he has been doing and the way in which he has treated his own Back Benchers is in the tradition of the proscriptions of ancient Rome.

The Prime Minister also fancies himself an admirer of Churchill. He should remember that Churchill told us that the first duty of a Member is to do what he thinks, in his faithful and disinterested judgment to the honour and safety of this Britain. That is what patriotism, real patriotism, is about, and the way in which this Prime Minister has disgracefully used the Prorogation process blunts the interests of this House and of the British people.

They are not the attributes of a British Prime Minister. I would say they are the attributes of a tinpot despot or autocrat, except this Prime Minister might think it flattered him. No, he is a petulant man-child who is unable to get his way with this House, which is why he is trying to shut down debate through Prorogation. That is why we should support this motion tonight.