United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:09 pm on 14th September 2020.

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Photo of Claudia Webbe Claudia Webbe Labour, Leicester East 9:09 pm, 14th September 2020

By rushing through this legislation, this Government are treating the people of Leicester and the entire British public with utter contempt. Perhaps more than any election in recent memory, the 2019 general election was decided by a single issue. The Prime Minister promised to get Brexit done, and his party boasted time and again about an oven-ready deal that would settle the divisive issue of Brexit for good. “Very good”, “great”, “wonderful”, “fantastic” —those were just some of the words that the Prime Minister used during the general election campaign to describe the Brexit deal, which he is now openly willing to break international law in order to rewrite.

This is an agreement that the Prime Minister negotiated and signed himself, yet he now says that it contains grave problems that could break up our country. I do not know of any instance in which a Government have openly admitted to flouting their central election promise less than a year into their Administration. This is an unprecedented failure that raises serious questions about the Government’s entire mandate. Sadly, it comes as no real surprise. This Government are the embodiment of elitist double standards, where it is one rule for them and another for everyone else.

The Prime Minister is apparently not satisfied with misleading the public once by claiming that his half-baked deal was oven-ready. In addition, his Government are now being dishonest about the reasons why the deal must be changed. The issues of state aid and customs declarations are not a revelation but were repeatedly and explicitly spelled out to the Government last year, not least by their confidence and supply partners, the DUP. In this House, we cannot risk the sanctity of the Good Friday agreement or threaten peace on the island of Ireland, yet that is what this legislation proposes to do.

Why? This self-inflicted crisis is either a counterproductive negotiating tactic or a pathetic attempt to distract from this Government’s calamitous record over the last few months. After all, this Government have overseen the worst coronavirus death rate of any European country. Boris Johnson and his Ministers are used to U-turning—[Interruption.] The Prime Minister and his Ministers are used to U-turning, but tearing up their own international—