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Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:13 pm on 21st October 2019.

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Photo of Anna Soubry Anna Soubry Leader of the Independent Group for Change 8:13 pm, 21st October 2019

I gently say to Richard Graham that his last remarks really are palpable nonsense, because the Prime Minister has told this House—in fact, he and all the other members and supporters of the Government have been very proud to tell us all this in no uncertain terms—that he has negotiated a new deal. It is not a little variation here or a change there, but a new deal. Sadly, I now find myself in a position where, even though in recent times, I do not agree with pretty much anything that our Prime Minister says, I absolutely agree with him on this: he has indeed negotiated a new deal. It is not good enough for Government Members to blithely trot out what are now becoming really offensive comments and lies, saying that anybody who has—[Interruption.] Let me finish. They say that anybody who has almost the audacity to say that we should look at things in the normal manner, especially something of such magnitude that will impact on our country, our children and grandchildren for generations to come, is trying to thwart the will of the people and do something profoundly wrong and undemocratic. It is simply not good enough.

I respectfully suggest that the simple truths are as follows. It is undoubtedly the case that the majority of people in this place share exactly the same views as all the people we represent. We are all fed up to the back teeth with Brexit. Some of us have been saying that for quite a while, but just because it has been three and a half long years—not helped by such things as calling a general election, which did not solve the impasse in this place but merely added to it—does not mean that we should all become frightfully impatient and rush towards the final post, especially given the huge change that has been made to our future relations with the European Union.

I read the Irish protocol not just once, but twice, and the second time that I read it I was even more disturbed than the first. Right hon. and hon. Members might remember that I stood up in this place last Thursday—days go into a blur, as you will understand, Madam Deputy Speaker—and said that on first reading, it represented two very important changes. One is that it removes the backstop not just for Northern Ireland, but for England, Wales and Scotland, so for England, Wales and Scotland, that backstop, which was the bare-bones customs union, has now gone completely. In effect, in the absence of the free trade agreement, which will not be negotiated in the 10 months that, in reality, will be available to negotiate it, we will leave at the end of the so-called implementation/transition period without any deal. We will fall back on World Trade Organisation rules. I believe that the hon. Member for Gloucester does not want that—I have always believed that—but I say respectfully to him that he has to understand what has happened to the party that I used to be a member of. It has now swung over to the hard Brexiteers, and the European Research Group, with its determination to get that very hard, no-deal Brexit, is now running the show, so we absolutely face that very real prospect.