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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:48 pm on 1st April 2019.

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Photo of Helen Hayes Helen Hayes Labour, Dulwich and West Norwood 5:48 pm, 1st April 2019

I thank the hon. Lady for her intervention. It will indeed be interesting to see that documentary.

It was the Prime Minister who took the UK into a snap general election in June 2017 and sought a mandate from the British people for her own explicitly hard interpretation of Brexit. She failed to achieve that mandate, but refused to accept that the will of the British people was not for a hard Brexit. It was the Prime Minister who negotiated with the EU on the basis of hard-Brexit red lines, and secured the only deal that could be secured on the basis of those red lines, when a negotiation genuinely based on the national interest might have yielded a different outcome. It was the Prime Minister who, despite facing the biggest defeat in parliamentary history on her deal, and two subsequent enormous defeats, recklessly and stubbornly failed to acknowledge that her deal cannot command support.

The vast majority of my constituents do not support Brexit—77% voted to remain in the European Union. They believe it will be utterly disastrous for our country and do not wish us to leave the EU. It is therefore no surprise to me that more than 26,000 of my constituents signed the petition calling for article 50 to be revoked, which is around 33% of the electorate. The many people who have been in touch with me about the petition support revocation because they oppose Brexit and because it is an essential protection against a no-deal Brexit, which is entirely within the power of the UK Government to implement. For those reasons, I support motion (G) and will vote for it tonight. Parliament has rejected no deal. If no deal and no extension can be agreed, revocation is the only responsible course of action for the Government to take to protect our country from the calamity of a no-deal Brexit.

My constituents are, however, hugely supportive of the opportunity for the British people to have a final say on Brexit by way of a confirmatory vote. The only democratic way through the terrible impasse in Parliament is to allow the British people to express a view on whether they wish to leave the EU with a deal capable of being agreed by the EU, or whether to remain in the EU. Those who support leaving the EU with a deal have nothing to fear from such a process. They would be free to campaign and vote according to their views. I would, of course, campaign for remain in any such referendum.

Three years on from the EU referendum, it is clear that the leave campaign lied, promising many things: additional money for the NHS and multiple trade deals with other large economic powers that have simply not materialised. We now know things that were simply not discussed in 2016, chief among them the risks presented by Brexit to security in Northern Ireland. The official leave campaign has now accepted that it broke the law to win by a very small majority. It simply cannot be claimed in this context that the 2016 referendum result can accurately be read as the will of the people for ever and a day.