Early Parliamentary General Election (No. 2)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:10 pm on 9th September 2019.

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Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis Independent, Bury South 12:10 pm, 9th September 2019

In its handling of Brexit, this House has lost the respect of the country and made us a laughing stock around the world. Prolonged uncertainty, as much as no deal, can tip us into recession, with disastrous consequences for jobs and living standards. I hear high-minded speeches about protecting the constitution and the propriety expected of Government, and I accept that a small number of Members are vehemently opposed to no deal but would support Brexit with a fair deal. I also regret the fact that the Government decided to prorogue this House, which was as unnecessary as it was undesirable.

The vast majority on the Opposition Benches, when they claim support for an affirmative referendum and/or opposition to no deal, are determined to overturn the result of the referendum. They have displayed an increasing contempt for our duty as democrats to respect and implement the result. They lecture others about democracy, accountability and our national interest, yet they are hell-bent on frustrating the will of the majority of the people, as expressed in that referendum. They should be honest: it is their objective to thwart Brexit in whatever the circumstances. Whatever deal is put to this House, there are many, many people who will vote against it because they want to thwart the will of the people, in terms of that referendum result.

Many of the so-called progressives in this House are fuelling right-wing extremism by showing contempt for the result and the majority who voted to leave. We asked the people and they gave us their decision—to leave the European Union. I say that as a remainer. One cannot be a selective democrat who respects democracy only when it delivers their preferred result. This goes to the root of the Leader of the Opposition’s position tonight. He demands an election time and again, but now, given the opportunity, he vetoes an election, not because of the national interest or stopping no deal, but because he knows he would lose that election—not because of the vast majority of the values of decent Labour MPs and many Labour party members, but because, as a lifelong Eurosceptic leading a party of remainers, he has been caught out trying to have it both ways on Brexit time and again. He does not have the leadership skills required at a time of so many challenges facing our country, and his leadership has led to the party of anti-racism and equality becoming the party of institutionalised anti- semitism—so much so that a majority of Jews in this country feel that they would not be safe in the event of his becoming Prime Minister.

This House could not stand up for the public interest or break its stalemate for over three years. Therefore, the national interest demands a general election; then, maybe, a new House will be able to show the leadership that this country needs and deserves to begin the process of rebuilding trust in this place and healing the scars of division in our society. [Interruption.] I hear some of my hon. Friends saying, “What about a by-election?” That is what the Momentum-types in my constituency keep saying—that I am running away from the electorate by not having a by-election now I am an Independent. I am voting for a general election tonight. I am willing to face the people in my constituency, unlike too many of the people on these Benches.

Finally, Mr Speaker, many tributes have been paid to you, quite rightly, for the way you have presided over this House. I would like to add to that the work you did for children with speech and language difficulties, which changed the lives of many families.

When I heard the speeches earlier, in which people talked about how proud they were of this House of Commons, I thought, “They’re not living in the real world”. My voters, my constituents, are not proud of this House of Commons; they think we’ve entirely lost the plot.

The time has come for people to be honest with the British people, and that means we need to respect the result of the referendum. The alternative would be to fuel right-wing populism like we have never seen in the history of this country.