Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:41 pm on 30th December 2020.

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Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 5:41 pm, 30th December 2020

I heartily reciprocate the kind good wishes of the hon. Gentleman. I hope he has a splendid new year and that he, his party, his friends and family and everyone in this House have a very jolly new year and a better 2021 than perhaps 2020 has been.

Every week, the hon. Gentleman complains that he lost the referendum in 2014. However, that does not change the fact that he lost. And when he lost, it was said by the SNP, which we now know is nationalist with a small “n”, that the result was for a generation. It is still for a generation, that generation has still not passed and he has still lost. I basically just repeat what I have been saying for the past few weeks.

The fishing industry, which the hon. Gentleman mentioned, is one of the great beneficiaries of Brexit. Is it not extraordinary that the Scottish nationalists, with a small “n”, wish to hand it back to Brussels and lose all the opportunities for Scottish fishing, so that they can be regulated from Brussels? It is quite extraordinary. It must be—what is it?—Stockholm syndrome that they have got. They have been imprisoned so long by the EU that they cannot bear to leave and want to be controlled, even at the cost of their fishing communities.

The hon. Gentleman complains that the debate was not long enough. Well, it was long enough—it was probably 50 years of debate over our membership of the European Union in truth—but if he wants to speak further on it, I know that the House will be waiting with bated breath for his contributions in the global Britain debate, which will be held on 11 January.

As regards the prospect of increasing the period of transition, that would have been a very unwise thing to do, because it would have potentially entered us into billions of pounds of risk, as it would have taken us into the new multi-annual financial framework. It was fundamentally important that we did not take that risk and that we left when we said we would. It is also quite important to stick to commitments made to voters. We had promised the voters that we would leave, and so we did.

Proxy voting allows people to vote effectively and safely, and with their conscience. The hon. Gentleman might not have noticed, but the Deputy Chief Whip has facilitated people voting against the Government, if that is what they wish to do. The votes are being recorded according to the Member’s desire, not what they are ordered to do, because one cannot order Members. Members vote of their own accord, although occasionally their friends give them helpful advice.

As regards the move to more hybrid technology, the hon. Gentlemen is in Scotland and may not have noticed that London has gone into tier 4. We have therefore adopted a similar scheme to the one we had earlier in the year, when the highest level of restrictions was in place. This is merely responding to the reality in the country at large, which we always said we did. It is therefore consistent, but I look forward to us getting back to normal and having a full, bustling Chamber, without Perspex screens, plastic markings and signs facing this great Chamber.