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European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:48 pm on 9th January 2020.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Conservative, Stone 2:48 pm, 9th January 2020

First, Mr Deputy Speaker, I congratulate you on your successful re-appointment. Thank you for everything you have done for us in the past.

I welcome Fleur Anderson to the House of Commons. Her speech was very measured. I do not agree with much of it, as she will expect, but it is a pleasure to have her in the House. I worked extremely closely with her predecessor, Justine Greening. The hon. Lady may not know this, but the International Development (Gender Equality) Act 2014, which I introduced as a private Member’s Bill, got through despite being 16th in the ballot largely because of the support I had from her predecessor, as well as Opposition Members and many others, including Glenys Kinnock and Mariella Frostrup. Justine Greening put real effort and determination into getting the Bill through and it was a real privilege for me to work with her. The purpose of the Bill was to make sure that women and children in the third world and developing countries were protected against female genital mutilation and things of that sort. In saying all that, I want to make it clear that there is a degree of continuity of some sort between the hon. Lady’s speech and mine, although I have to dissociate myself from remarks of hers on which I will not comment right now.

I always enjoy speeches by Pete Wishart—they are such fun. He comes at us 100% and there is never any let-up. I pointed out that we Maastricht rebels—I had the honour to lead that rebellion in 1992-93—acted as we did because for us it was about democracy and the benefits that will now come to us as we leave the European Union. The European Union was going to take the democratic decision making of this country and hand it over to what was, in effect, a European government. As I said yesterday, parliamentary sovereignty and democracy run together. We are not “hard Brexiteers”; we are democrats. We are people who believe that this country should be governed by the people, that people should be governed by themselves, and I would have thought that SNP Members, above all others, understood that.