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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:59 pm on 4th February 2019.

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Photo of Anne Main Anne Main Conservative, St Albans 4:59 pm, 4th February 2019

That is interesting. The other day in the main Chamber, I tried to intervene on the Leader of the Opposition many, many times. I wanted to know whether the policy of the Labour party is to offer another referendum. The economic collapse, I believe, is a much-hyped fear factor.

The British public had 40 years of trying out the European project, which is certainly not the common market that my late parents voted for. That was a vote for one thing. After 40 years of ever closer political integration, the British public were asked if they wanted to re-endorse that membership, or if they would like to say, “We’d like to leave.”

It is not as though we have not discussed the possibility of leaving, or our unhappiness with having treaties foisted on us. The British public have a lot of experience—the history that the hon. Member for Bath does not want to draw on—of looking at how they were treated, how they were talked to, and how they were being sucked into closer integration, which they were not happy with. As my hon. Friend Paul Scully, who opened the debate, said, that is what many people were unhappy with. The British public knew that they did not like it, so they decided that they wanted to leave and be an independent, self-governing and sovereign nation again. That is the argument that was made.

I campaigned to leave, and I made it very clear to my constituents that I was for leaving—I did not hide that, or take the easy option—although most of them voted to remain. I made it clear that I believed in leave, but that I was only one vote. Those members of the British public who were of voting age that first time around, however, had seen the direction of travel, which was towards ever closer integration, and they did not want to go there, so they decided get off that bus.

I do not like to talk of winning or losing, but the only way to describe a referendum is in those terms. The leave campaign won because there was more heart in the campaign to get back our sovereignty than there was in saying, “We know the EU’s not perfect, that it should change, that lots of you have had grumbles and complaints over the years, and that we keep trying to change things and it never gives us much—but I am sure it will at some point in the future.” That did not cut it.