Brexit negotiations over the past two years have culminated in a constitutional crisis and the inability of our Government to resolve the single biggest issue that our country has faced in a generation, says Helen Hayes, (Lab Dulwich and West Norwood).
The Prime Minister has refused to take any responsibility for her role in that crisis, yet it is she who has led us to the current impasse, Helen Hayes told a Westminster Hall debate on Brexit
“Faced with a country split down the middle in its opinion on Brexit, the Prime Minister said almost nothing on Brexit between July 2016 and January 2017, except “Brexit means Brexit”.
“She failed at that early stage to chart a way forward that could bring the country together: a basis for negotiation with the EU that placed the national interest and protecting our economy, employment rights and environmental protections at the heart of the negotiating objectives.
“In January 2017, the Prime Minister finally announced her Brexit red lines, which were essentially the red lines of the European Research Group—a hard-line sub-group of the Tory party not in any way representative of a majority of the country and advocating for the most divisive and damaging version of Brexit possible.
“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 per cent 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 33pc 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.
“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 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.”
Julian Lewis (Con, New Forest East): ” I merely point out that the remain campaign heavily outspent the leave campaign and the Government sent a letter—a leaflet—to every household in the country at a cost of £9 million with an entirely one-sided pro-remain argument in it, so the hon. Lady cannot claim that leave got the better of the options in getting propaganda out to the masses.
“The Government must act to stop the damage that Brexit is doing. The democratic way to do that is to renew the mandate to proceed any further by giving the British people a final say. “If they will not do that, and we stand at the edge of the no-deal cliff, the Government must revoke article 50.”
That this House has considered e-petitions 241584, 235138 and 243319 relating to leaving the European Union.
Motion lapsed, and sitting adjourned without Question put (Standing Order No. 10(14)). (Source: TheyWorkForYou April 1st 2019)
e-petition 241584 called for Article 50 to be revoked and for Britain to remain in the EU (6,078,323 signatures); e-petition 235138 called for another referendum, (144,599 signatures); e-petition 243319 urged MPs to honour the result of the 2016 referendum (159,503 signatures. (Source BBC News website)