European Union (Withdrawal) Acts

Part of Prime Minister’s Statement – in the House of Commons at 1:59 pm on 19 October 2019.

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Photo of Alison McGovern Alison McGovern Chair, Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art, Chair, Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art 1:59, 19 October 2019

I want to say some words about the nature of the deal before us. This is all a question of trust: whether we should support the deal depends on trust. We have heard that from their representatives today that the people of Northern Ireland cannot trust this deal. This could take us backwards, not forwards, in Northern Ireland.

We are learning that, before long, the Conservative and Unionist party will be the party only of England. They are putting our Union at risk. The people on the Great Britain-Northern Ireland border, whether that is in Birkenhead, Holyhead or Stranraer, cannot trust this deal. The Conservative party is becoming the party only of the south of England. As has been said by my right hon. and learned Friend Keir Starmer and by Frances O’Grady of the Trades Union Congress, we know the damage that this deal will do to the people of our manufacturing towns. The Conservative party is becoming the party only of the south-east home counties. As for the Conservatives who want a soft Brexit, Mr Francois gave it away: the ERG has decided. The Conservative party is becoming the party of only the ERG, and this is the ERG’s deal.

The next generation cannot trust this deal when it comes to environmental protections. We have seen the protests about climate change, but those voices are not heard. When it comes to freedom of movement and our rights at work, generations of trade unionists cannot trust this deal. We on the Labour Benches are representatives, not delegates, but I challenge any Labour MP to disagree with the delegates of any trade union branch in the country. We cannot trust this deal.

The Conservative party is making itself untrustworthy. Instead of advancing rational policies, it has made itself into a historical re-enactment society, seeking to undo 40 years of progress in which it played a part. However, the Conservatives’ interpretation of our country’s history is untrustworthy. Let me mention one lesson from our history: at the time of the fall of France, the Polish pilots who came to Britain to fight alongside us called Britain “last hope island”. Then as now, solidarity in Europe, not a Britain that stands alone, should be the source of our hope. That was true then, and it is true now. This deal is bad for Britain, and we should vote it down.