Early Parliamentary General Election

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:32 pm on 28th October 2019.

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Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Conservative, Ribble Valley 6:32 pm, 28th October 2019

Absolutely. I did a two-day tour around my constituency last Friday and Saturday, and I spoke to a number of people. There were three hardcore remainers who would do almost anything to remain in the European Union. However, the vast majority of people who come up to me in Ribble Valley say either, “I voted leave: get on with it”—they are quite angry that we have not left the European Union—or, “I voted remain, but I can’t believe that we are still in the European Union. I am a democrat. I believe in democracy, and when we have a referendum I believe in carrying out the wishes of that referendum.” We all remember what was written on the back of that pamphlet: it said that we would follow the instructions of the British people in that referendum.

Even better than that, of course, we had a general election in 2017 in which we said that we would deliver Brexit. Labour Members stood in that general election and said they would deliver Brexit, but what do we find? Ever since that general election, we have seen dither and delay, dither and delay, and anything—anything—but vote for the Brexit that they promised. It was either, “It’s not the right deal”, or “We have to get no deal taken off the table.” Well, we had an opportunity last week to take no deal off the table, and that would have made it possible for Labour Members to have fulfilled their promise in that general election two years ago by voting for the deal that the Prime Minister brought back from Brussels. But no—the vast majority of Labour MPs voted against Second Reading. That meant that they did not want it to go any further. There was no possibility of their amending the legislation to have a customs union, to get workers’ rights or to get higher environmental standards. No, they decided they wanted to stop Brexit in its tracks, and that is why they voted against Second Reading. Only 19 of them voted to give it a Second Reading.

My constituency, Ribble Valley, is in the heart of Lancashire. In fact, on an Ordnance Survey map one of my villages is actually in the very centre of the United Kingdom. My constituency voted 57% to leave the European Union. Every constituency in Lancashire, whether it has a Labour MP or a Conservative MP—thankfully, we do not have any Lib Dems—voted to leave the European Union.

What we are seeing tonight is quite remarkable. Labour Members said that they would deliver Brexit, and they are now clearly not doing that. Then they said that they wanted more time to scrutinise the withdrawal agreement Bill, even though the vast majority of them voted against its going any further. They wanted more time, and so tonight we are offering them more time. Then they said that they wanted an early general election. Well, the way they get an early general election is by voting for the motion tonight. They will get more time to scrutinise the withdrawal agreement Bill so that they will at least fulfil part of their promise two years ago, and then get their early general election on 12 December whereby they can put forward the programme that they wish, and see where the people go.

On the other hand, we have the Scots Nats, who are at least saying that they want to go for 9 December. They do not want to deliver Brexit—they never have—but none the less they are being consistent on that. We hear time and again that Scotland voted not to leave the European Union. More than 1 million Scots voted to leave the European Union. There is no reaching out to those 1 million Scots. More people voted to leave the European Union in Scotland than voted for the Scottish National party, so we see where that is going.

Then there are the Lib Dems, who just want to revoke article 50. They are called the Liberal Democrats. I do not know what aspect of them is democratic, because we had a referendum, the people said they wanted to leave, and that is not being fulfilled.