The Bill started out as quite a sensible measure to protect the internal market, but it has become a monster that threatens devolution and our standing in the world. I listened carefully to the Prime Minister, but all I heard were the same old distortions, prevarications and half-truths. It is not good enough. I will vote for the reasoned amendment, and if that fails, I will vote against the Bill, because I am clear that lawmakers cannot be lawbreakers.
Conservative Members won their seats by telling the electorate that they had secured a deal. The Prime Minister toured the country and TV studios telling us that it was a great deal; now he claims that it is full of flaws and holes. What is becoming all too clear is that it is our Prime Minister who is full of flaws and holes. Did he not know what he was signing when he toured those studios? Was he simply talking tosh?
We are being asked to risk our country’s reputation and our ability to negotiate or seek to enforce any future treaty or trade deal. International treaties are either binding or not; we cannot have limited non-compliance. A lifetime ago, I worked with young offenders. I came across plenty who had broken the law in a specific and limited way; it did not make any difference. No one present should countenance the idea that what we are being asked to agree is anything other than lawbreaking.
People who remember the troubles know that we cannot take chances with Northern Ireland. We should not risk the security provided by the Good Friday agreement. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Gove told us that the protocol was about ensuring continued peace and preserving the agreement. Surely we have enough on our plate trying to combat the pandemic. Maybe the Prime Minister should apply himself a bit more thoroughly to that task. We risk a return to mass unemployment, with all the suffering and societal tensions that will bring. He should apply himself to that. We do not need juvenile brinkmanship; we need mature leadership and responsible behaviour. We need the Government to knuckle down and fulfil their obligations under the agreement they signed and get us the deal they promised. Anything else is a betrayal of the British people.