European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

I should like to begin by thanking the voters of Dudley South—not just the 68% who voted to return me to the House for the third time but the other 32% who took part in a well-spirited and fair campaign.

Throughout the six weeks of the general election campaign, knocking on doors not only around Dudley South but in Dudley North, West Bromwich East, West Bromwich West and seats around the Black Country, a response kept coming back, time and time again. It did not take slogans from political candidates or election broadcasts to raise the phrase, “Get Brexit done.” It was coming from people on the doorstep. There was a determination—an impatience—to get Brexit done. This Bill will take us one step closer to doing what we should have done a long time ago, and ensure that we get Brexit done and do as we were told—as we were instructed—in the 2016 referendum.

In all the seats I have campaigned in over the last two months, and particularly in areas with higher working-class populations—areas that, for many years have voted for Labour candidates and returned Labour Members of Parliament—the overwhelming sense was frustration. People were tired of being ignored by their representatives, and Brexit was an obvious example. More than anything else, on the European Union and European policy, they were tired of being patronised by so many people who would claim to represent them.

We have even heard some of those sentiments today from those on the Opposition Benches. We have heard suggestions that, somehow, whether in the general election or the referendum campaign, those who voted for Brexit and who have now voted overwhelmingly for a Conservative Government, ensuring a strong Conservative majority, either did not understand the question because they were misled by lies or clever slogans, or had prejudices that meant they could not take a fair decision.

Those sentiments, which have, unfortunately, been expressed by a few Opposition Members, and particularly by Labour Members, say rather more about those Members than about voters up and down our country who have voted three times now for Britain to leave the European Union. They voted in that referendum. They voted for two parties in 2017, both of which promised faithfully that they were committed to implementing the referendum result. And then, last week, when it turned out that the main Opposition party did not actually mean what it said about keeping that promise, they voted to return a Conservative Government who will, giving them a good majority.

The Leader of the Opposition has spent most of the last week trying to persuade anybody who will listen that the reason for his party’s worst election performance in over 80 years was Brexit, rather than his hopeless leadership. It is therefore extremely disappointing that he intends to march his Members of Parliament through the Division Lobby this afternoon to once again ignore voters, many of whom, until last week, had been lifelong Labour supporters and Labour voters. One person I spoke to had been a Labour supporter going back to when they voted for Clement Attlee in 1951, but they could no longer vote for this Labour party, because it does not speak for them or listen to them. I will therefore be supporting the Bill today.