European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:19 pm on 20th December 2019.

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Photo of Rachel Maclean Rachel Maclean Conservative, Redditch 11:19 pm, 20th December 2019

I was just congratulating myself on putting my tick in the right box to vote for you, Mr Speaker. It is indeed wonderful to see you in the Chair. Congratulations on your election, and I hope that it ushers in the start of a brave new Parliament, not just for me and my own speeches, but, of course, for all of us, and for the country.

In the general election that took place only just over a week ago—which seems incredible—I was returned to this place with more than 63% of the vote, the largest share ever received in the fantastic constituency of Redditch since its formation in 1997. It exceeded even the vote share of Jacqui Smith, the former Labour Home Secretary, when she represented the constituency so ably. That, I think, constitutes an overwhelming mandate for me to get Brexit done, and then move on to the priorities on which my constituents want me to focus on their behalf. One of those priorities is, of course, returning services to the Alex hospital. New Members, you will hear that again—hint, hint.

I think it fair to say, along with my colleagues who were also elected in 2017, that we have had a pretty miserable time of it. All of us entered the House full of the passion that my wonderful new colleagues sitting near me clearly feel. We were eager to do our best not just for our constituents but for the whole country, but we have not been able to fulfil what we were sent to Parliament to do. I believe that, as a Member with the privilege to sit on these Benches, I am a servant of my constituents. It is not my job to tell them that they were wrong, and that they did not know what they were voting for. I voted remain, but at the end of the day we have to respect democracy. People who are on the wrong side of arguments just need to move on, and, finally, we have a chance to do that.

I must admit that when the Prime Minister set out on his path of first trying to reopen the withdrawal agreement and get rid of the backstop and then going for a general election, I thought to myself, “He has an uphill struggle in front of him.” I really wondered whether he would be able to do it, given the state of the Parliament that we had at the time, but I think that what he has done is take a leaf out of the British Army engineers’ book. They have a saying when faced with a seemingly unsurmountable challenge: “We will get it done, whether it can be done or not.” I think that that is what the Prime Minister has done, and I want to thank him for returning all of us here, and for breaking the deadlock and allowing us to do our job of serving the people. We have a refreshed Parliament. We have a new intake who are full of passion and energy and ideas to transform our whole country, and we can finally do that.

I can think of no better way in which to finish this brief session of Parliament than to wish everyone a very, very merry Christmas, including you, Mr Speaker, the Clerks and all the Doorkeepers, and all the staff who have worked so hard to make us all feel welcome. It was only two years ago that I was here for the first time, and I remember how confusing it was, but the staff are so patient and so lovely.

Let me end by saying, in case anyone was in any doubt, that I will definitely be voting in the Aye Lobby to honour the democratic wishes of the lovely people of Redditch who have put me here—and by wishing everyone a very merry Brexmas.