Leaving the European Union — [David Hanson in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:54 pm on 4th February 2019.

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Photo of Chris Heaton-Harris Chris Heaton-Harris The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 5:54 pm, 4th February 2019

To the best of my knowledge, I did not hear anybody mentioning that in the campaign, or in the debates in Parliament that led to the referendum being granted. I can honestly say that I never heard that until possibly the day after the referendum result. I was going to come on to my hon. Friend’s contribution; as there are now two Chairmen in the room, I should make the point that they both need to go back to Mr Speaker and ensure that my hon. Friend gets higher priority on the speakers’ list, because more people need to hear what she has to say on this subject. She made a huge amount of sense, and I think she underestimates her value to this place and this debate. She said that she campaigned to leave, and that she was but one vote, but she was joined by 17,410,741 others, of which I was one, and that is a decent-sized number.

[Mr Philip Hollobone in the Chair]

I completely take my hon. Friend’s point, and that is why I get slightly anxious in some of these debates to ensure that we are not seen to be cloth-eared here. We have a referendum result that we are delivering on. I agreed with pretty much every word that she said, including about my contribution to whatever debate there was around the deal. I absolutely voted for the deal the first time around. With my personal experience of the European Union, I trust it to deliver on matters that it signs up to, so I was happy to go into the Aye Lobby. However, I can guarantee her that the Government will not ignore the fact that 17.4 million people voted in the way they did.

It is always a pleasure to listen to Patrick Grady, who, as the Scottish National party’s Chief Whip, is now too silent. It was a pleasure to deal with him when I was a Government Whip. He is always courteous, polite and completely on the money. He will never go back on his word, and that is true in this case, too. He wears his heart on his sleeve in these matters, and he articulated very well that he is a passionate pro-European. I guess I should ask him to forgive me for being exactly the same, but coming from the reverse position.

I would love to quote parts of the hon. Gentleman’s speech back to him—perhaps I can do so over a beer some time—including the bits about how staying within a Union gives people a chance to shape its future and all that sort of stuff. However, we will leave that for another day.