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

Absolutely. We had a referendum in 2016 that put the basic question, “Do you want to leave the European Union?”, and 17.4 million people voted to leave. I have said clearly that I respect all the different reasons on which those people based their vote to leave. I have spoken to many people who have given many different reasons why they wanted to leave the European Union and why they voted in that way.

We are three years on, however, and the hon. Lady’s Government have spent two years negotiating an agreement with the European Union. That is the only Brexit agreement that exists for us to leave with a deal. Given that we in this House have voted three times to rule out the catastrophic prospect of a no-deal exit from the European Union, I have made it clear, and many hon. Members share the view, that we must find a deal that Parliament can agree to.

In my view, if we are confident—as the Government say they are—that the Government’s deal is the best available, we should put it back to the public and let them have the final say. That is why I was proud to join many hon. Members and more than 1 million people to demonstrate in London on 23 March to call for the withdrawal agreement to be put back to the British public via a people’s vote. That is the only democratic way out of the impasse.

In contrast with the ugly, angry, threatening and sinister behaviour outside Parliament on Friday by people who have clearly hijacked the Brexit campaign for more dangerous ends, the People’s Vote march was fantastic. It was a positive advert for Britain and full of people who care deeply about the future of our country and its place in the world. As I have since made clear to my constituents, and to the Prime Minister directly, however, I recognise that we all now need to compromise in the national interest if we are to get out of this crisis.