Britain's Place in the World

Part of Speaker’s Statement – in the House of Commons at 6:49 pm on 15th October 2019.

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Photo of Christopher Pincher Christopher Pincher Minister of State 6:49 pm, 15th October 2019

It is a great pleasure to stand at the Dispatch Box after three years in which I laboured in the monastery of the Whips Office—a place that I know is close to your heart, Mr Speaker—where my Trappist vows meant I could not speak and could not act. Having been released back into the Chamber to open my mouth, it is a very great pleasure to address the House and to wind up this debate on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, who has been at the National Security Council today.

We have had a very good and wide-ranging debate, with excellent contributions from across the House. My hon. Friend Sir George Hollingbery, who knows a thing or two about trade, spoke knowledgeably about trade deals. My hon. Friend Rehman Chishti spoke movingly about the importance of freedom of religion. My hon. Friend Richard Graham had some rather good ideas about the Foreign Office, which I think involve umbrellas. I shall be happy to talk to him more about that. And, of course, there was an excellent contribution from my hon. Friend Sir Robert Syms, a former colleague in the Whips Office.

I listened carefully to what Emily Thornberry, the shadow Foreign Secretary, had to say. We found out a great deal about what she would do in any Queen’s Speech that she might be party to. We found out that, apparently, she is not going to do very much about Brexit, because there was not a single mention of it in her speech. She asked about a number of countries that the Foreign Secretary had not addressed in the House. There are a lot of opportunities for her to table urgent questions; Mr Speaker is always very keen to hear them. It is interesting that she took such a great interest in what the Foreign Secretary had to say in Manchester. It is a city that perhaps she might want to visit once or twice. It would be nice if perhaps she came to our conference, given that she spent so much time talking about it. We would be very pleased to see her there—on the fringe of course, but not in the main hall.

May I begin, Mr Speaker, by thanking you and saying that it is a great honour to close this debate and reaffirm the Government’s vision for a self-confident, ambitious, outward-looking global Britain beyond Brexit? Under this Government, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union on 31 October. I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Brexit Secretary, who was in Luxembourg today and who has been working incredibly hard to negotiate the good deal we want to achieve. It is the responsibility of every Member of this House who is serious about keeping their promise to the voters to respect the 2016 referendum to get behind this effort for the good of the whole country.

The leader of the Labour party will not keep his promise to respect the referendum. He wants to take the country back to another divisive referendum. It was unfortunate to hear what Keir Starmer and Hilary Benn had to say. They said that they do not want no deal. They also said that they do not want this deal. What they really want is no deal at all: they want to take us back and cancel Brexit. They want to overturn the result of the referendum. They want to overturn the instruction given to us by the British people. Why do they think that that will inspire confidence in our democracy? Why do they think that if the previous referendum was divisive, the next referendum is somehow going to bind us all together?