What is so difficult about the debate is that it has wedded itself to events in the past, rather than looking at the reality right in front of us.
Our country remains in a crisis. The situation is completely unacceptable and intolerable, and I am hugely aware of the costly uncertainty and anxiety that it is causing for businesses and people up and down the country, but I am also clear that, despite the Prime Minister’s disgraceful and inflammatory attempts to lay the blame at the feet of democratically elected representatives doing their jobs, this appalling mess is entirely of the Prime Minister’s, and the Government’s, own making.
The time-limited article 50 process was triggered without any plan or agreed strategy for where we wanted to end up—I voted against it at the time for that very reason—and months of valuable negotiating time were wasted on a general election that resulted only in a hung Parliament. After that election, there was a complete failure to listen and to reach out to or engage with MPs—either by party, geographically or according to their views on Brexit—to build that much-needed consensus, with every decision taken by the Prime Minister in her narrow party interest, rather than with the greater good of the country in mind. Yet more time was wasted by repeatedly postponing, or simply ignoring, meaningful votes on the agreement, even though it was clear some four months ago that it would not command Parliament’s support.
I implore the Minister not to respond to this important debate simply by trotting out the same tired old lines that we have heard from those on the Government Benches today, or what we have heard time and again about the Government’s approach to Brexit. I implore him to engage with the fact that this Government’s total failure to steer the country through this historic process has resulted in 6 million people signing a petition in a matter of days, calling for the only policy that this Government have pursued for the past three years to be reversed.