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European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:09 pm on 9th January 2020.

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Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union) 1:09 pm, 9th January 2020

I will explain precisely what I mean by my comments, which echo the intervention made by my hon. Friend Stephen Kinnock.

The last four years have divided our country like no others. It did not have to be like that. If only, after the referendum, when David Cameron ran away from the crisis he created, the then new Prime Minister had been straight with the British people. If only she had said that our country is split down the middle; it has voted to leave but by a painfully close margin of 52:48, which is a mandate to end our membership of the EU but not to rupture our relationship with our closest neighbours and most important trading partners. If she had said that we would leave but stay close—aligned with the single market in a customs union, and members of the agencies we have built together over 47 years—we would have supported her. She could have secured an overwhelming majority within this House. She could have brought the country together again after the divisions of the referendum. Instead, she pivoted to those whom her Chancellor—not those on the Opposition Benches but her Chancellor—described as the Brexit extremists in her party, risking the economy and security of our country. The Bill continues on that path. We have consistently rejected that approach, and that is why we will do so again today by voting the Bill down.