Leaving the EU: Extension Period Negotiations — [Mr Laurence Robertson in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:39 am on 22nd May 2019.

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Photo of Jenny Chapman Jenny Chapman Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union) 10:39 am, 22nd May 2019

It is a pleasure to take part in the debate, although I feel that it has been something of an internal Conservative party discussion. To sum up for the Minister, I do not think his colleagues are very happy. It is a pleasure, too, to follow Peter Grant. I have a great deal of time for many things he said. Perhaps with the exception of the Minister, most hon. Members here in Westminster Hall agree that the Government have mishandled negotiations and served up a deal that is unsupportable by a majority in the House.

Lee Rowley used some memorable phrases. He talked about the situation being a “catastrophe” and “stupidity”, and said “the Government are tired”. He said that it is a “Brexit of the shadows,” that there is a “cult of stamina,” and that we have a “wreckage of a Government decaying before our eyes”. That is pretty damning from a fairly new MP about the one job on which the Prime Minister said she should be supported: delivering Brexit. That is what Conservative MPs think about it. It is a pretty incredible situation for us to have reached.

I congratulate Julia Lopez. Although I did not agree with everything she said, I found the manner in which she said it, the tone she used and the considered way she formed her argument quite refreshing. It is not the way these discussions have often been carried out in this place and outside. If we could have had a bit more of that kind of discussion, perhaps we would have avoided getting to where we are, three years after the referendum.

The hon. Lady spoke of her maiden speech, which I do not think I caught. She made me think of my maiden speech nearly 10 years ago, in 2010. I remember speaking about cuts to education and about serious crime, and I promised that I would always put my constituents first, which is something that is felt by everybody who gets elected to this place.

I regret some of the comments that have been made. I think Mr Clarke said—I wish I had written it down, because I cannot remember the exact words he used—that we despise our constituents if we do not happen to agree with some of them on Brexit. I find that unhelpful, and it misrepresents the relationship we have with our constituents, which is absolutely one of respect and understanding. We attempt to represent the whole of our constituencies, even though they are inevitably divided on this issue at the moment.