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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 6:10 pm on 4th February 2019.

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Photo of Paul Scully Paul Scully Chair, International Development Sub-Committee on the Work of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact 6:10 pm, 4th February 2019

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I will get my 40-slide PowerPoint presentation ready, if you do not mind. No, I just want to take a few minutes to say thank you to everyone who has contributed to the debate. Yes, there has been some knockabout fun, shall we say? But on the whole, this matter has been dealt with in the right spirit—in the knowledge that people are looking to us in this place to hold such debates in this way. We can differ, but we can hear and, more importantly, listen to one another; we can hear a lot of things, but unless we listen, we never learn.

We have to look to the time when this process is finished. Yes, the result was 52% versus 48%. We have to work out how to heal the divide—in Parliament, but most importantly, out there in the country—and ensure that we can secure a Brexit that works for everyone. With regard to securing that Brexit, the petitioners and the 116,000 people who signed the petition can rest assured: the Government and a lot of Government Members certainly do not want to revoke article 50, but we do not want to extend article 50, either.

My hon. Friend Mrs Main agreed with my view that no one is going to die in a ditch about a couple of weeks, if there is a technical position to consider—a few of us have talked about that —but people saw what happened in the voting Lobbies a few weeks ago. My right hon. Friend Anna Soubry and my hon. Friend Mr Rees-Mogg were in the same voting Lobby, celebrating the same result. If we do not end up with a deal, one of those people—they are colleagues—is going to be sadly disappointed. They cannot both be right, given the positions that they took at that time. The obvious way to get through this in time to be able to leave on exit day, 29 March, is to ensure that we secure a deal.

I hope, as I said at the beginning, that we put forward a reasonable proposal to Brussels, in a reasonable way that allows people there the space that our colleagues in this place have had over the last week or so, ahead of that vote. That is what I urge. What changed over the previous weekend was that there was more emollient language from people on all sides of the debate, which allowed people to calm the temperature down a little. The hope is that we can do the same with Brussels. If people there are looking at alternatives in order to avoid a hard border and no deal, surely they can just look at this again and give us what we need on the Irish backstop to ensure that we can get a deal through. That would help us, clearly, but it would also help the EU—and without encouraging other people to leave. All we want is to be able to do our thing and to allow the EU to progress in the way it wants to. Let us be friendly neighbours—let us not be awkward tenants—and let us do that in the most clear way we can, so that we can all progress and move on.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House
has considered e-petition 224908 relating to leaving the European Union.

Sitting adjourned.