Leaving the European Union — [James Gray in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:52 pm on 1st April 2019.

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Photo of Catherine McKinnell Catherine McKinnell Labour, Newcastle upon Tyne North 4:52 pm, 1st April 2019

The hon. Lady makes some excellent and important points. It is good that they are now on the record.

The reason I say all this, and why I have spent so much time holding the Government to account on this issue since 2016, is that I know that if we get Brexit wrong, it will significantly diminish our capacity as a country to fund our public services—to tackle the “burning injustices” that the Prime Minister once pledged to fight. I say to those who, quite understandably, just want Brexit to be over that if the UK leaves in the coming weeks, it is not over—Brexit and all of its ramifications has not even begun.

Turning to the second e-petition that we are debating, in the week after we were due to leave the European Union, and following two and a half meaningful votes on the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement, the only thing that is clear is that Parliament remains in Brexit gridlock, although today’s further indicative votes may help to provide some much needed clarity on a potential way forward. However, as things stand, we still face this cliff edge on 12 April. It is unclear how the Prime Minister’s agreement can be passed by Parliament before that date, given the scale of the challenge she continues to face, unless she is finally prepared to change course.

I have long believed the answer to this seemingly never-ending and hugely damaging parliamentary gridlock lies in what is advocated by the second e-petition that we are considering. Signed by 185,542 people as of 3.30 pm, it calls for a second referendum to be held to enable the British public to choose whether to accept the Prime Minister’s deal—the one that she and the EU have repeatedly told us is the only and best Brexit deal available—or to remain in the EU with the deal that we already have.