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East Suffolk Liberal Democrats

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What Tom Brake said in the Commons on the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill

February 6, 2017 7:52 AM

Article 50

Tom Brake, speaking in the House of Commons on 1st February 2017, on the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill (video available here):

I hope that I am wrong, but I believe that the decision that the country took on 23 June will result in the biggest self-inflicted wound since our disastrous intervention in Iraq. That wound is festering and it will leave the UK permanently economically weaker, even after it has healed. I believe that, when Members of Parliament believe that a course of action is going to be a catastrophe, they have a duty to harry, assail and oppose the Government, not to acquiesce.

I respect those who voted to leave. They had, and have, genuine grievances about a lack of jobs or education prospects, and concerns about the changes they see in our society, including concerns about immigration. The Brexiteers claimed that leaving the EU would address those concerns by stopping the cancellation of urgent hospital operations-paid for, presumably, by the tsunami of cash that was going to come to the NHS post-Brexit-improving teacher shortages in our schools and boosting housing supply. It will not do any of those things. In fact, it will make them worse. I doubt that even the leave campaign's most prominent pledge, to reduce immigration substantially, will be achieved. Why would it be? After all, the Prime Minister has spent many years seeking to reduce the level of non-EU immigration, and nothing changed there.

What leaving the EU will do with certainty is diminish us as a nation and reduce our influence and international standing. That has already happened. Brexit has forced our Prime Minister, a born-again hard-line Brexiteer, to line up with Trump-indeed, to walk hand in hand with him. While European leaders and Canada condemned his Muslim ban, our Prime Minister's initial response was to say, "Not my business." Worse, she immediately offered him, with indecent haste, a state visit-far quicker than any other US President-which I am sure had absolutely nothing to do with her desperation to secure a trade deal, any deal, with the protectionist Trump.

In "The Art of the Deal", Trump says:

"The worst of times often create the best opportunities to make good deals."

To translate that for Conservative Members, the worst of times for the UK create the best opportunity for a good deal for the US.

Jobs are at risk. Six months after the vote, there is still no analysis of how many jobs will be lost after we come out of the single market.

[...] The Liberal Democrat position is very clear: the people voted for departure, not the destination. Now the Government must give them a chance to vote on the destination. If that guarantee were forthcoming tonight, I would vote with the Government.

Source: [accessed 05 Feb 2017]