My Brexit Speech 3rd April

Martin Vickers, Cleethorpes

Needless to say, as an almost lifelong Brexit supporter, I shall be speaking against the proposal. I recognise that there are Members across the House who quite genuinely did not want to leave the European Union and who believe that the best interests of our country are served by being a member of that Union. That is a perfectly honourable position. What I find objectionable, however, is that some are quite deliberately seeking to frustrate the will of the British people that was so clearly demonstrated in June 2016. In my constituency, there was a 70% vote to leave. I am pleased about that, because I was one of them. I have campaigned long and hard to achieve this. I know I do not look old enough, but I did actually vote in the 1975 referendum, and of course I voted to leave on that occasion.

Andrew Percy, Brigg and Goole

Is it not the case that many of our constituents, nearly 70% of whom voted to leave the European Union, as my hon. Friend says, now think that there is a stitch-up trying to deny the referendum result? That is a problem with Bills such as this. It is perfectly fine for people to talk about coming together, but when legislation proposed by people on the other side of the campaign would deny a way of leaving the EU, our constituents will only feel that this place is more out of touch with them and that this is all one massive stitch-up.

Martin Vickers Conservative, Cleethorpes

My hon. Friend and constituency neighbour is absolutely right in his analysis.

Moving on, some people argue for a second referendum, or a so-called people’s vote, as if the people did not vote on the first occasion.

Neil Parish Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

I am not my hon. Friend’s constituency neighbour, but I thank him for letting me intervene. I agree that we had a people’s vote in 2016. I campaigned and voted for remain, but we must respect the vote and get on with leaving the European Union. However, many Labour Members are thwarting that even though they campaigned on a manifesto commitment to leave the European Union.

Martin Vickers, Cleethorpes

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. Although he is not my neighbour, he is of course welcome to visit Cleethorpes at any time. He will be made most welcome.

I was moving on to talk about a second referendum and the uncertainty and division that it would cause. I ask those Members who think that it would resolve the issue what would happen if a rerun with 16.4 million people voting remain led to them winning on a lower turnout. Would that satisfy the 17.4 million who voted to leave in 2016? Of course not. The uncertainty and division would continue, and we would be battling on for another 20 or 30 years about our future in Europe.

We must remember that the 2016 referendum was, to a great extent, an emotional vote. We had “Project Fear” telling the people that they would be worse off and that taxes would rise within days—hours, even—of a decision. However, the people said, “That’s fine. Let’s look at that.” We did not want to leave because of some potential downturn in our economy; it was a cultural issue. Our history, our structure of government, our Parliament and our judicial processes are all different, and we were having to make more and more changes to our established processes.

Antoinette Sandbach, Eddisbury

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way. The vote itself was on our membership of the EU. It was not about our future relationship. All those emotional matters may well have been sold to the people during the campaign, but the vote itself was about our membership, so it cannot be prayed in aid when considering how our future relationship should be shaped.

Martin Vickers, Cleethorpes

Needless to say, I strongly disagree with my hon. Friend. The people voted to leave the structure of the economic union, and they wanted to slam the door closed. They wanted a clean break. They were not thinking about our future relationship; they said, “We’ve had enough of the existing relationship.”

John Baron, Basildon and Billericay

My hon. Friend is making an excellent speech. I am sure he will agree that in addition to the emotion the people were proved right, because despite the predictions of doom and gloom in 2016, the economic reality since is that we have had a strong period of growth, and those investment decisions have been made in the full knowledge that we could be leaving with no deal on WTO terms.

Martin Vickers, Cleethorpes

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend.

They made that decision to leave, and they expected us to leave—they certainly expected us to be leaving in a lot less than three years. It has been suggested that if we go back and rerun the referendum, people will change their mind because of the economic arguments and so on. The reality is very different. We should recognise, as I recall the Attorney General saying on one of his outings in the House on this issue, that this has now come down to a political decision, and the political decision should follow the result of the referendum. There would be an enormous backlash against not just the party in power but the political classes if we are not seen to walk through the door before us marked “exit.”

I urge the House to vote against Second Reading and to continue the battle. If we end up with no deal, so be it.