European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:35 pm on 4th September 2019.

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Photo of Antoinette Sandbach Antoinette Sandbach Independent, Eddisbury 4:35 pm, 4th September 2019

I want to put on record what a pleasure it has been to serve my constituents in Eddisbury. I think they would be amazed to know that the purge of the Conservative party that took place yesterday led to their Member of Parliament being expelled from the party, together with eight Privy Counsellors, two former Chancellors, a former Lord Chancellor and my right hon. and learned Friend Mr Clarke, who has been a political inspiration to me for years. The economic arguments are well known, but in my constituency, where the chemicals, car, pharmaceuticals, aerospace and nuclear industries and the food and drink sectors are all key sectors in the north-west, 80,000 jobs are at risk in a no-deal Brexit. I do not regret putting my job on the line to save my constituents’ jobs, but I do regret that the Prime Minister forced me to do it. I want to say to Conservative colleagues that no deal is not the end of Brexit. My hon. Friend Mr Seely said yesterday that he wanted Brexit to be over, to focus on other issues that matter to his constituents. I agree; so do I. I voted for the deal three times. However, keeping the threat of no deal on the table does not achieve this.

I say this to my Prime Minister: the reason that your negotiations are undermined is not because of a no-deal Brexit, but because the Europeans cannot see the steps that you are taking to build consensus in this House and get any concessions given to you through Parliament. That is what puts you in the weaker position, not a threat of no deal. Without the public and Europe being able to see how you are trying to build consensus in this House, and how this party, this Government, this House and this Parliament are trying to work together to get a solution, you will not get concessions from Europe. It is the people in this House who voted down the compromise—the withdrawal agreement—that have brought us to the brink of a no-deal precipice. I believe in the principle that Parliament should have a say in one of the biggest questions of our times, and tonight we should stand up.