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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:44 pm on 1st April 2019.

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Photo of Wera Hobhouse Wera Hobhouse Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Justice), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment and Climate Change) 5:44 pm, 1st April 2019

It is a big honour not only to serve under your chairship, Mr Gray, but to speak in this debate. More than 6 million people have signed the petition. Let us reflect on the extraordinary circumstances that have led to this debate and the extraordinary number of people who have expressed their will in this way, combined with the 1 million people who marched peacefully just over a week ago in the streets of London to voice their opinion. They are unashamedly and for good reasons voicing their opinion that they want to stay members of the European Union.

Throughout the past three years, I have campaigned to remain. Within two weeks of the 2016 referendum, we set up Bath for Europe with like-minded people. We understood that democracy is not only about majorities, but about people being represented. I have proudly represented the will of the 48% who wanted to stay in the European Union. I believe that the number of people who want to stay in the European Union is now more than 48%, and it would be wrong not to openly represent that view. It would be wrong to be demonised for that.

It is also true that the referendum happened, so my preferred choice has always been to put the issue back to the people. My view is that revoking article 50 is the last thing we can do, in extremis, if we do not get the people’s vote over the line. I believe very much—I would have to test it with the people—that those who have signed the petition agree with that view. Many millions of people probably hope that we will get to a people’s vote where they can express their opinion.