Leaving the EU Debate

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Department: Cabinet Office
Monday 5th October 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Nick Fletcher Portrait Nick Fletcher (Don Valley) (Con)
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My first ever Westminster Hall debate is on the subject that got us here in the first place. As the first ever Conservative MP to represent Don Valley, an area which voted 69% in favour of leaving the European Union, I felt compelled to speak in the debate because two of the petitions that we are debating, which are now over a year old, demand a public inquiry into the 2016 referendum. The vast majority of my constituents and I believe that the motives behind the petitions are not entirely sincere. Instead, I believe that the petitions were established and signed because people—petition data show that they reside mainly in the southern metropolitan areas of the country—could not accept the referendum result. We really need to move on.

Since the 2016 referendum, some members of the political elite have treated 17.4 million people with complete contempt. Large sections of the media and political class actively tried to rob those people of their voice. Some politicians and journalists stated repeatedly that the desire of the majority to leave the EU was impossible. By the beginning of the last general election, some said that the referendum should not have taken place in the first place, and one major party even promised to cancel Brexit altogether. Meanwhile, petitions such as the ones we are debating were used to grind Brexit to a halt. Through inquiries, people who remained upset at the referendum result sought to overturn the largest democratic exercise in this country’s recent history. That was despite the fact that, after the referendum, Parliament overwhelmingly voted to proceed with the Brexit negotiations. Some 80% of the votes cast in the 2017 general election were for parties that supported our departure from the EU.

Hindsight can be a wonderful thing. I believe that the last election, when many of my hon. Friends and I were elected across the country, is confirmation that petitions such as the ones we are debating do not have the popular support of the people. The 2019 election decisively confirmed that the public did not want to stall Brexit, and indeed that they did not want endless inquiries into allegations that had no substance; they wanted to get on with Brexit and deliver the referendum result. However, we now see renewed calls to halt Brexit, this time due to coronavirus, yet again because a small minority continue to cling to the hope that they can prevent the will of the people.

I, for one, find it awful that my constituents’ views yet again appear to have been discarded, but I make it clear to the good people of Don Valley and across the north that their voices will be heard, and that the Government will get on with Brexit. The Government have already confirmed that they are fully prepared to leave the EU with an Australian-style deal at the end of this year. With coronavirus likely to be with us for many more months or even years to come, why wait? After all, we gave the public the choice in a referendum and two general elections. I think they have made themselves quite clear, so let us get on with what I and many others were elected to do less than a year ago—let us get Brexit done.