Nicola Sturgeon – 2017 Speech on Scottish Independence and Brexit

Below is the text of the speech made by Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on 27 June 2017.

Presiding Officer,

Like other countries, Scotland faces big challenges.

Some, like Brexit, are not of our choosing.

But we must always remember that Scotland is one of the richest countries in the world, with resources and talent in abundance.

Our task is to make the most of our great potential and build the kind of country we want to be – a fair, prosperous, open and tolerant country.

In working towards that goal, it is my responsibility as First Minister to build as much unity and consensus as possible.

That is why, after the election – which was, of course, won by the SNP in Scotland – I said I would reflect on the outcome and, in particular, on the issue of an independence referendum.

I have done so carefully, taking time to listen to a broad spectrum of voices, both within and out with my own party.

I want to set out today where those reflections have taken me.

Before I do so, let me underline two enduring points.

Firstly, it remains my view that at the end of the Brexit process, the people of Scotland should have a choice about our future direction as a country.

Indeed, the implications of Brexit are so potentially far reaching that, as they become clearer, I think people may well demand that choice.

We face a Brexit we did not vote for, and in a form more extreme than most would have imagined just a year ago.

And now, the terms of that Brexit are being negotiated by a UK government with no clear mandate, precious little authority or credibility and no real idea, even within its own ranks, of what it is seeking to achieve.

While we must hope for the best, the reality is that with the UK government’s current approach, even a so-called good deal will be on terms substantially inferior to our current EU membership.

And, of course, there is a real risk that the UK will crash out of the EU with no deal or a very bad deal – with deep and long lasting consequences for jobs, trade, investment, living standards and the opportunities open to future generations.

On top of all of that – as we saw so clearly in the deal struck with the DUP yesterday – we now have a UK government that talks about wanting to strengthen the bonds of the UK, but in reality is so desperate to cling on to power at any cost, that it is prepared to ride roughshod over the very principles of the entire devolution settlement.

So if Scotland is not simply to be at the mercy of events, but instead in control of our own future, then the ability to choose a different direction must be available.

Secondly, there is simply no doubt that the Scottish Government has a mandate within this term of parliament to offer the people of Scotland that choice.

We have now won two elections with that explicit commitment in our manifesto – and the Scottish Parliament has also endorsed the position.

By any normal standard of democracy that mandate is beyond question.

Opposition parties – no matter how strongly they disagree with us on independence, as is their right – should stop trying to turn the basic rules of democracy on their head.

Presiding Officer,

The mandate we have is beyond doubt.

But deciding exactly how to exercise it is a matter of judgment – and it is a judgment that must be made in the interests of the country as a whole.

That is what I have been thinking carefully about.

Before, during and since the election campaign, I have had hundreds of conversations with people in every part of Scotland about the issues of Brexit and a second independence referendum.

There are, of course, some people who don’t want another referendum, ever, because they oppose independence in all circumstances.

I respect that position. It is just as legitimate as the position of those who support independence in all circumstances and want another referendum tomorrow.

But many people – probably the majority – fall into neither of these categories.

Indeed, having spoken to many people who voted Yes in 2014 and to many others who did not but who would be open minded in future, what has struck me is the commonality of their views.

They worry about the uncertainty of Brexit and the lack of any clarity about what it means.

Some just want a break from the pressure of big political decisions.

They agree that our future should not be imposed on us, but feel that it is too soon right now to make a firm decision about the precise timing of a referendum.

They want greater clarity about Brexit to emerge first – and they want to be able to measure that up against clarity about the options Scotland would have for securing a different relationship with Europe.

And, in the meantime, whatever their scepticism about the likely outcome of the negotiations, they want the Scottish Government to try as hard as we possibly can to secure Scotland’s position.

Indeed, that view has even more force now that the General Election and the weakness of the UK government has re-opened the possibility, however narrow, of retaining membership of the single market.

I intend to listen to those views.

We remain committed – strongly – to the principle of giving Scotland a choice at the end of this process.

But to reassure people that they will not be asked to make this choice now – or in the immediate future – but only at the end of the process when greater clarity has emerged, I am confirming today that the Scottish Government will reset the plan I set out on March 13th.

We will not seek to introduce legislation for an independence referendum immediately.

Instead, we will – in good faith – redouble our efforts and put our shoulder to the wheel in seeking to influence the Brexit talks in a way that protects Scotland’s interests.

We will seek to build maximum support around the proposals set out in the paper that we published in December – Scotland’s Place in Europe – to keep us in the single market, with substantial new powers for this parliament, and do everything we can to influence the UK in that direction.

And at the end of this period of negotiation with the EU – likely to be around next autumn – when the terms of Brexit will be clearer, we will come back to Parliament to set out our judgment on the way forward, including our view on the precise timescale of offering people a choice over the country’s future.

In setting out this position today, I am also issuing a challenge to the other parties.

The Scottish Government will stand the best chance of positively influencing the Brexit outcome if we are at the table – with the full backing of our national Parliament – arguing for the sensible option of staying in the single market.

So join us now, with no equivocation – back the demands for the democratically elected Scottish Government to be at the table, able to influence the UK’s negotiating strategy, and for Scotland and the UK to stay in the single market.

The second conclusion I have reached is this.

Over the past few months, the focus on the when and how of a referendum has, perhaps inevitably, been at the expense of setting out the many reasons why Scotland should be independent.

The fact is we are only talking of another referendum so soon after the last one because of Brexit. And it is certainly the case that independence may well be the only way to protect Scotland from the impact of Brexit.

But the case for an independent Scotland is not just about Brexit – it goes far beyond that.

Many of us believe that independence is the right and best answer to the many, complex challenges we face as a country – and also the best way to seize and fully realise our many opportunities as a country.

So the challenge for all of us who do believe that Scotland should be independent is to get on with the hard work of making and winning that case – on all of its merits – and in a way that is relevant to the changes, challenges and opportunities we face now and in the years ahead,

That is what my party will do.

We won’t do it on our own – because the independence case is bigger than us too.

My party will engage openly and inclusively with, and work as part of, the wider independence movement.

And, together, we will build and win the case that governing ourselves is the best way to tackle the challenges we face as country – from building a better balanced and more sustainable economy, to growing our population, strengthening our democracy, and tackling deep seated problems of poverty and inequality.

Presiding Officer,

My last point, today, is this.

The SNP government has been in office now for ten years.

I am incredibly proud of our achievements – delivered in the face of unprecedented Westminster cuts.

I am also clear about our priorities as we move forward – not just fighting Scotland’s corner in the Brexit talks, but also growing our economy and making sure that the public services we all rely on are there when we need them, from cradle to grave.

That means improving education, equipping our NHS for the challenges of the future, lifting people out of poverty and building a social security system with dignity at its heart.

But any government, after ten years, needs to take stock and refresh.

So over this summer, as we prepare our next Programme for Government and our budget for the year ahead, that is exactly what we will do.

We will set out afresh our vision for the country we lead, together with the creative, imaginative, bold and radical policies that, as far as possible within the current powers available to us, will help us realise that vision.

We look forward to getting on with the job in the best interests of all the people of Scotland.

Darren Jones – 2017 Maiden Speech to the House of Commons

Below is the text of the speech made by Darren Jones, the Labour MP for Bristol North West, in the House of Commons on 26 June 2017.

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for calling me to give my maiden speech.

Being elected as the Member of Parliament for my home constituency of Bristol North West is deeply humbling. It is humbling for me personally, as a working-class kid from a council estate in Lawrence Weston in my constituency. To be able to speak here on behalf of my friends, my family, my community and, indeed, my country is a great honour.

Let me pay tribute to my predecessor, Charlotte Leslie. The Member of Parliament for seven years and a candidate for three further years, Charlotte’s decade of local leadership was held in warm regard by my constituents and by me. We thank Charlotte for her public service.

From the earliest evidence of human habitation in these British Isles on the shores of the River Avon near Shirehampton to the eighth-century monastery of Westbury-on-Trym, granted by King Offa of Mercia, to the Roman settlements at Sea Mills and Lawrence Weston, and the Domesday reference to the parish of Henbury, and now, so I am told, to the first ever Darren elected to this House of Commons, Bristol North West is an historic and fascinating constituency.

But the successes of my home and its people, from jobs at the port and advanced manufacturing, to research and development, to the professional services, rely on our trading relationship with the European Union. That is why my first priority during this Brexit Parliament is to fight for Britain’s membership of the European single market. Because in times of peace our first priority must be prosperity for all. That is why the politics of holding on to power for power’s sake, or political positioning to win internal ideological battles, must stop. We are all here to do what is right for the country. For if that is not the case, I do not know why we are here at all.

So I stand here humbled by my election, with a sense of urgency to tackle a hard Brexit but also with a sense of sadness—sadness because the world feels more fragile than it has in the past, with Britain seen as weak and uncertain in high-risk times, and with fast-paced technological change, shifting geopolitical power, young people frustrated by the country, old people increasingly left alone and public services allowed to slowly die by a thousand cuts.

Politics is hard work, but it is the only forum through which we can provide hope. Whether I am an MP for four months or four years, and whether my actions ​bring success or failure to my own political career, I will always put my constituents and my country first. In this mother of Parliaments, let us do all we can to show that a modern and just Britain can rise from the ashes of our current dismay. We are merely shepherds of the nation, standing on the shoulders of giants, tasked with leaving a country to our children that we can be proud of.

This Brexit Parliament will define the future of our country. Let us not self-harm and cause pain, but let us instead unite and act with sense, as well as with patriotism in our hearts, for a national renewal after the dark years of austerity, for the birth of a new British chapter that works for the many, not just the few, and for a new dawn for a new Britain. It is for us now to seize that opportunity and to avoid the risks of failure, but we can do it only by working together in this Brexit Parliament—leavers and remainers—in the national interest.

Andrew Mowie – 2017 Maiden Speech to the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made in the House of Commons by Andrew Mowie, the Conservative MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, on 26 June 2017.

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for calling me to speak. It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Ilford South (Mike Gapes).

It is an incredibly humbling experience to have been elected to this place. I hope that, however long or short my time here may be, I will be able to serve West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine with the same dedication and purpose as my predecessor, Stuart Donaldson, did for two years.

I am fully aware that I walk in august footsteps: Sir Robert Smith held the seat for 18 years; George Kynoch sat here and represented the equivalent seat of Kincardine and Deeside for five years; and, of course, the still much respected and fondly remembered Sir Alick Buchanan-Smith held Kincardine and Deeside and, ​before that, Angus North and Mearns from 1964 until his death in 1991. That was 27 years, and I am only on day 18.

Members will, I am sure, get fed up of my 12—yes, 12—Scottish Conservative colleagues insisting that their patch of God’s own country is the most beautiful in the entire UK. Although I do, of course, sympathise with them, it is quite clear that the most beautiful, unique, attractive and downright brilliant constituency in the entire country is West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine—from the Cairngorms National Park around Braemar, down through the Dee Valley and Royal Deeside, to Ballater, Aboyne and Banchory, skirting the edge of the granite city itself, taking in Blackburn, Westhill, the subsea capital of Europe, and down to the North sea cost at Portlethen and north Kincardine. There is also the picturesque, pastoral Donside, Corgarff, Strathdon, Alford and Kemnay. Stonehaven and the villages in Howe of the Mearns were made famous, of course, by Lewis Grassic Gibbon in what was the favourite novel of my grandfather, an English teacher, “Sunset Song”.

In the old rhyme,

“the twa peaks you can see frae the sea, Clachnaben and Benahie”,

are both in West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, although I should admit to having to share the latter with my hon. Friend the Member for Gordon (Colin Clark).

What other seat has such history? I could—but I will not, because time will not permit it—tell the gripping tale of how the Honours of Scotland were smuggled out of Dunnottar castle in a creel basket by a minister’s wife, to save them from the clutches of the marauding army of Oliver Cromwell; or of the romantic but ultimately doomed 1715 Jacobite rebellion, which began at Braemar with the raising of the standard of James VIII and III; or of Victoria, Albert, John Brown and how Deeside became Royal Deeside; or of the Monymusk reliquary, thought to be 1,300 years old and which held the bones of St Columba and was carried in front of the victorious Scottish army at Bannockburn. I could tell those tales, but I will not.

It would, of course, be entirely remiss of me to speak today without mentioning how I, in West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, now have the immense honour of representing Balmoral castle. In fact, as Members from Scotland will be aware, the residence in the north-east of Scotland is now represented by a Conservative not only in this place, but in the Scottish Parliament by my friend and colleague Alexander Burnett. With Ruth Davidson herself representing Holyrood palace in Edinburgh, Her Majesty will, I am sure, be delighted to know that she now has three elected Conservative representatives on whom she can call. It is an honour to represent Balmoral, even when, if canvassing, it is an extremely long drive to walk up only to find that the resident is not on the electoral roll.

I have 33 seconds left, so I will canter through the rest of my speech. Today we continue to debate the Queen’s Speech, specifically how it relates to Brexit and foreign affairs. The speech last week stated that a Bill would be introduced to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and provide certainty for individuals and businesses.

Last Thursday I attended the royal highland show in Ingliston. I met many farmers, including from West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine. In between lamenting how appallingly poor the Scottish National party has ​been at managing the common agricultural policy system north of the border, they wanted to make one thing abundantly clear. What farmers and all in the agriculture sector require—what they need now more than anything else—is certainty and stability in our country and our economy, and a clear way ahead so that they can plan and grow their businesses, not just for the next five years, but for the next 10, 15 and 20 years.

What the farming sector and, indeed, this country do not need is further uncertainty in the shape of another referendum on Europe or another general election, and they certainly do not need another referendum on Scottish independence. Why not all come together, in the national interest of the United Kingdom, and support the Government this week? That is what my constituents need me to do, and that is what I will do.

Anna McMorrin – 2017 Maiden Speech to the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Anna McMorrin, the Labour MP for Cardiff North, in the House of Commons on 26 June 2017.

I am grateful for the opportunity to make my maiden speech today.

It is a privilege for me to follow Craig Williams as the Member for Cardiff North. I know how hard Craig worked to represent the constituency over the past two years.

The recent election campaign was punctured by a number of tragic events, from Manchester to London. In Wales, there was another sad event, which brought together the nation. The loss of our former First Minister, Rhodri Morgan, was felt in homes across Wales. Some may remember his time here representing Cardiff West, as well as his wife, Julie Morgan, who represented Cardiff North, and who still represents the constituency in the National Assembly. Julie and Rhodri were a team for over half a century. Rhodri was always a close friend and wise counsel. He is much missed, and I am sure Members will join me in extending our love and sympathy to Julie and the family.

The history of the modern Cardiff North is a history of how industry and people changed and revolutionised the city and the whole of south Wales. But it is industry that has defined the modern part of the capital that I represent. It was the wealth created by the traditional industries of south Wales that created the gothic splendour of Castell Coch, and it was this same industry that brought people to create Cardiff and that led to the growth of Whitchurch, Rhiwbina, Llanishen, Pontprennau, Heath and Llandaff North, to name only a few of its communities.

That industry also created a cosmopolitan, multicultural city that is home to Cardiff’s first Welsh-medium secondary school—a school where my daughter learns through ​the medium of a language that is growing and that will be spoken by 1 million people in the coming decades.

It is the people of Cardiff who voted to remain in the European Union. The vote in many parts of Wales was not a vote against Europe or the concept or the reality of the European Union; it was a vote against politics—against the reality of the decisions taken here. The cumulative impact of benefit cuts and reductions in public spending has hit the poorest hardest, so I intend to use my time here to speak up against a failed austerity where the richest people have forced the poorest people to pay the price. The UK Government seem to have abandoned austerity for Northern Ireland today: what about the rest of the UK? The UK is weaker and less united this evening than it was this morning. I also hope the UK Government understand that it is important that the whole of the UK is represented in these talks and negotiations. At present, the UK Government are in danger of losing the argument not only in Brussels but in Cardiff as well, with a disunited kingdom where jobs and livelihoods, workers’ rights and action on climate change are sacrificed in the pursuit of an impossible imperialist fantasy.

During the business statement last week, Mr Deputy Speaker, you were kind enough to allow me to raise the issue of the loss of over 1,000 jobs in my constituency because of the closure of a Tesco customer care centre, and I am grateful. Since then, I have had the opportunity to spend time with and speak to many of the workers who have been told they have lost their jobs. They are devastated; many have two or three members of the same family working there. Over the weekend, one of them wrote to me. Her words speak for everyone affected there. “Please fight for us”, she said, continuing:

“Each and every single one of those 1,100 people are heartbroken and terrified as we face uncertain futures for ourselves and our families. Anything you can do, anything at all—we all will be forever grateful”.

Those are her words, not mine, and they are a challenge to us all. It is those people and their voices that are in my mind today and will be guiding me.

My fear is that if this Government are allowed to drive through a Brexit where the jobs and livelihoods of the people we all represent are treated with disdain and indifference, then these will be the stories we hear every day, every week, and every month. I intend to use my time to stand up against failed austerity measures and for a more prosperous, fairer and more equal society. I look forward to working with my colleagues here. Thank you.

Anna Soubry – 2017 Speech on Brexit

Below is the text of the speech made by Anna Soubry, the Conservative MP for Broxtowe, in the House of Commons on 26 June 2017.

It is a great honour and pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden). I agree with much of what he said and, indeed, with the excellent speech from my right hon. Friend the Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire (Stephen Crabb). As ever, I also endorse much of what was said by the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn).

People right across this House, and indeed this country, have to be utterly realistic and honest about this and accept that everything has now changed. In my constituency, I found very few angry remainers—I know there are many angry remainers, but it tends to be a London-based thing, and the results in London for the Conservative party say it all. However, in my constituency, there are very few angry remainers. What there is is an acceptance of the result and almost a sense of resignation—it is not agreement, and it is not a welcome. That is especially true of constituents who run their own businesses, who did not welcome the result and who do not welcome the fact that we are leaving the European Union. However, people have accepted the referendum result, and their message and their plea now is that we should come together and get the best deal we can in the national interest.

That is why I am so pleased that we are already seeing changes in the approach being taken, and many other hon. and right hon. Members have expressed that view. I repeat much of what was said from the Opposition Front Bench about the need to change the tone. Those on the Government Front Bench need to wake up and understand that things have now changed. The rhetoric has to be dropped. The slogan that no deal is better than a bad deal is nonsense, and it has always been nonsense. The British people know that, and that is why they voted as they did on 8 June.

Nobody likes somebody being very smart, but I am going to have to say this: I stood up in this place—on this spot—on two occasions, and I warned hon. and right hon. Friends of the dangers of ignoring the 48%, and the young in particular. The expression I used was that many young people who voted remain believe an older generation have stolen their future, and the result was there on 8 June. I hate to have been proved right, but I was. Look at the demographics of the results; they almost mirror those from the referendum. The older people were, the more likely they were to have voted Conservative; the younger ones—obviously, in my terms, that is anybody under the age of about 50—did not. More people under the age of 45 voted Labour in the election.

Of course it is profoundly ironic that people who voted remain then voted for the Labour party and the Leader of the Opposition—a man who gave remain a very lukewarm seven and a half out of 10. If I may say so, Opposition Members, too, now have to wake up and accept the reality of the situation, because they have promised many of these people things they may not be able to deliver on. When they talk about the customs union, the single market and immigration, they now have to say what they mean, and they should stop being cowards about it: if they think they want the benefits of the customs union, they should have the—I nearly said a very unparliamentary word—courage to stand up and say that. They should make the case, and make the argument, just as we now need to make the case and make the argument about the benefits of immigration.

Finally, this is a great country. We still have a very good economy. We have a great and bright future. That is not because we are leaving the European Union, but despite it. We now need to make sure we have the education and training to seize those opportunities.

Pat McFadden – 2017 Speech on Brexit

Below is the text of the speech made by Pat McFadden, the Labour MP for Wolverhampton South East, in the House of Commons on 26 June 2017.

This Queen’s Speech shows the extent to which Brexit will dominate our legislative agenda. We have the repeal Bill, and Bills on trade, customs, fisheries, agriculture and more. No matter what outside events may say, we now have a single-purpose Government and a single-purpose legislative programme. The Prime Minister called the election because she said that she could not get Brexit through Parliament. How ruefully she must reflect on that statement now. Before she said that, the article 50 Bill had gone through this House with a majority of 372 votes. The other place had not tried to block it. Given that that legislation went through, the election was never called because Parliament was blocking Brexit. It was called because the Government wanted to cash in on big opinion poll leads.

The backfiring of that political gamble has left the Prime Minister leading a minority Government, dependent on the deal with the DUP that was announced today, at an immediate cost of £1.5 billion. When I was a child, we had a programme on television called “The Six Million Dollar Man”. I thought that that was a lot of money at the time, but the DUP has guaranteed far more than that for each of its representatives in this House. We enter the most important negotiations the country has conducted since the war weakened, not strengthened, with the authority of the Prime Minister shot to pieces, her Cabinet divided and her position sustained by nothing other than fear of another election.

As these negotiations begin, we are reminded of a salutary fact. We have discussed Brexit far too often in the past year as though it was something Tory Ministers could define—we have heard that it would mean this, it would mean that and it would mean the next thing—but this is actually a negotiation between the two parties around the table; it is not a Tory wish list.

When the Secretary of State was asked yesterday what he thought of Mr Barnier, he gave an insight into the level of preparation undertaken when he said, “He’s very French.” With that level of preparation, it is perhaps no wonder that the first demand, repeated four times in the article 50 letter—that the future trade negotiations take place alongside the article 50 negotiations—did not survive the first meeting on the first day. That reminds us that this is a negotiation between two parties, not a Tory wish list.

In substance, what does that really boil down to after the election? As other colleagues have said, the thing that should go is this mantra that no deal is better than a bad deal. No deal would be damaging for the European Union, but as the past and perhaps future Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee said, it would, relatively speaking, damage us more. We know the consequences: tariffs on cars and bigger tariffs on agricultural produce. It would make it impossible to have no hard border, at least in economic terms, between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It is, in relative terms, a gun held to our heads, not to the European Union’s head.

Ultimately, this negotiation will come down to a choice for the Prime Minister: will she do as the Chancellor wants and put economic interests first, or will she put the hard Brexiteers first? In other words, will it be the national interest first or nationalism first? That is ultimately the choice that faces us.

Crispin Blunt – 2017 Speech on Brexit

Below is the text of the speech made by Crispin Blunt, the Conservative MP for Reigate, in the House of Commons on 26 June 2017.

This is a defining Parliament for Britain’s place in Europe and in the world, and Parliament will fail in its duty if it does not preside over the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, and doing so in as good order as our 27 partners and negotiators enable. This entails the historic amount of legislative activity announced in the Queen’s Speech to convert the acquis communautaire into UK law. Much of the work will be detailed and technical, and it is important that we get it right, but hopefully it will not be controversial. However, the diplomatic activity that we undertake in the coming months and years will be important for Britain’s future and must not play second fiddle to our legislative challenge.

I welcome the commitment in the Queen’s Speech that Ministers will ensure that the UK’s leading role on the world stage is maintained and enhanced as it leaves the European Union. Few in this House, regardless of their position on the referendum question that we resolved a year ago, want the United Kingdom to be anything other than open and internationalist in its outlook. Now more than ever, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will have a central role in maintaining our networks and alliances, and in developing our political, security and economic ties around the world.

In the previous Parliament, the Foreign Affairs Committee, which I chaired, as I hope to do again in this Parliament, repeatedly called for the FCO’s capacity to be boosted. Immediately after the referendum, we reported that there was an urgent need substantially to increase

“the funding available to the FCO commensurate with the enormity of the task it now faces.”

Since then, the Department for Exiting the European Union and the Department for International Trade have been created, but the diplomatic task required in all European capitals and beyond will outlast the withdrawal process and is discrete from the trade agenda. I reiterate that just protecting the FCO budget is wholly inadequate for the task in hand.

Events will continue to develop with serious consequences for our interests. The current crisis in the Gulf and the potential for a hot or protracted cold war on the Arabian peninsula threaten the stability and prosperity of key British partners and have undermined the effectiveness ​of the Gulf Co-operation Council. There are calls for the United Kingdom to play a role as a third party in the implementation and monitoring of any future agreement. We should do so, particularly by offering our expertise in auditing any counter-terror financing measures, and indeed on what the ground rules might be for political Islamists to take part in developing democracies. That would be in the interest of all parties. It is vital that we are ready and properly resourced to carry out such work if requested.

Inevitably, I would like to be able to say much more in this debate about: our current operations in Syria; the future of liberated territory in Iraq and Syria; the authorisation of the use of force; a new sanctions regime as we leave the European Union; our involvement in the European Union’s future common foreign and security policy, and common security and defence policy; and, importantly, possible Brexit transition options. Finally, I want to make the point that 2020 would be a suitable date for the state visit of President Trump, which was notably omitted from the Queen’s Speech. I regret that people will now have to look at my website to see the full text of the remarks I had hoped to make in this debate.

Suella Fernandes – 2017 Speech on Brexit

Below is the text of the speech made by Suella Fernandes, the Conservative MP for Fareham, in the House of Commons on 26 June 2017.

Our great country is about to embark on a journey of national self-determination, rediscovering and building our identity as a great trading nation, an outward-looking nation and a nation that has every reason to be confident in its future. The Government have rightly rejected staying in the customs union and the single market. If we are to realise our aspiration of becoming a self-governing, global-facing democracy, we cannot remain signed up to the single market or customs union.

Contrast the Government’s position with what we have heard from the shadow Secretary of State today: confusion and an illogical position, as he stated that membership of the customs union remains on the table. Contrast that with what the shadow Attorney General said this weekend: we will not necessarily be able to control our immigration policy. But that was what people voted for last year. If Brexit is to mean anything, it must mean control of our borders, our immigration policy and our trade.

Why has the customs union not served our purposes? There are four main reasons. First, it has not served our country’s trade interests. The EU has a laughable track record on securing trade agreements with the more flourishing parts of the world. Since 1999, our trade deficit with the EU has grown from £12 billion to £71 billion. That is in contrast to our growing trade surplus with the rest of the world—we have gone from a deficit of £4 billion in 1999 to a surplus of £34 billion in 2016. There is therefore an amazing opportunity for our country to forge trade links with the rest of the world, rather than being reliant on the declining market of the EU.

We will be able to strike new trade deals only if we are out of the customs union. The alternative is impossible because of the common commercial policy, which binds all its members. The Labour manifesto says that it wants to

“work with global trading partners to develop ‘best-in-class’ free trade and investment agreements that remove trade barriers and promote skilled jobs and high standards”,

but that is simply not possible as long as we are members of the customs union.

Secondly, EU protectionism harms British consumers. We are denied products such as cheaper sugar from developing states because protectionist tariffs favour ​less efficient farmers in northern Europe. The EU customs union has pushed up the price of food and clothes by an estimated £500 a year for each household. By opening the market and lowering barriers to entry for new competition, prices will fall and consumers will benefit. Choice and quality will increase as producers will no longer have a captive market or a monopoly.

Thirdly, the EU’s trade agreements have focused too much on goods. When 80% of our GDP is from services, we need to realign our trade policy. Lastly, the customs union severely penalises farmers and workers in developing countries when they export to the EU. The tariffs are unequal and discriminatory, and that really is an enemy of fair trade. If we want to, we can develop more opportunities to support African countries to become more sustainable and to industrialise.

In conclusion, Brexit is not a crisis to manage, as the Opposition would have us believe. It is a golden opportunity for us to seize. I implore them to get behind the Government and support Brexit in all its forms.

Hilary Benn – 2017 Speech on Brexit

Below is the text of the speech made by Hilary Benn, the Labour MP for Leeds Central, on 26 June 2017.

The Secretary of State was characteristically confident about the Brexit negotiations when he spoke, but even he would recognise that things are rather different now. Following recent events, the Prime Minister is clearly weaker than she expected to be, and the EU is stronger than many thought it would be. The non-appearance of the “row of the summer”, referred to a moment ago, reminded us all about who is actually in control of these negotiations as we listen to the ever-insistent ticking of the article 50 clock.

In her speech on Wednesday, the Prime Minister promised that she would seek to “build a wide consensus” on Brexit. The words sound good, and our divided nation certainly does need to come together on this great matter. But let us be frank—the last 12 months have been spent doing anything but forging a consensus. Quite the contrary: we got no running commentary when people asked about the Government’s negotiating objectives; it took a recommendation of the Brexit Select Committee to get the Government to publish a White Paper; there was resistance to the need for transitional arrangements, although now almost everyone recognises that these will be necessary; and there was an initial reluctance to concede that Parliament will have the final say on any deal. I would like to think that this new commitment has come because Ministers have reflected on their behaviour and listened, but I suspect that it has much more to do with the outcome of the general election and the chaos that has ensued.

Like my right hon. and learned Friend the shadow Secretary of State, I cannot understand why we continue to hear the argument that the Government would be prepared to leave the EU with no deal, given that we now know that the Chancellor of the Exchequer does not agree with that proposition. He made that absolutely clear in his interview a week ago, when he talked about leaving with no deal as

“a very, very bad outcome for Britain”.

He is right. I gently say to Ministers that the chances of this Parliament’s agreeing to leave the European Union with no deal have melted away, along with the Government’s majority. The question is how this consensus can be built. I echo what the right hon. Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire (Stephen Crabb) said a moment ago.

I welcome the greater detail announced today on EU nationals, although the families affected still need answers to questions, including about what the new simplified system will look like, the cut-off date and how family members, including children, could join them. Earlier, the Prime Minister said:

“After the UK has left the European Union, EU citizens with settled status will be able to bring family members from overseas on the same terms as British nationals.”

In responding, will the Foreign Secretary confirm that in such cases, after March 2019, that will involve meeting an income threshold? That is what British citizens currently face. On the oversight of the arrangements and the rights of UK nationals, which we must of course protect, I personally think that a court made up of UK and European judges would be a very sensible way forward.

But let us be clear—the issue of EU and UK nationals is meant to be the simplest, to be sorted out at the start of the negotiations, compared with all the fundamental questions so important to the future of our economy and our country: our trading relationship with the EU; access to the single market; how we will ensure that we continue to have the skills we need for economic growth; public services and the tax revenue that we need to pay for those services; the future of co-operation on foreign policy, defence, security, the fight against terrorism and science and research. On that latter issue, I do not understand Ministers’ reluctance simply to say that they wish to remain part of the Horizon 2020 programme.

Given that the Government’s central aim—indeed, it is the aim of the Opposition—is to maintain tariff-free and barrier-free trade, I also do not understand why the Government have turned their backs on the simplest means of achieving that, which is to remain within the customs union, especially as that would solve the problem of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Perhaps the Government have chosen this path because in practice they know that Britain will probably remain a member of the customs union for some time to come. The Chancellor’s speech at the Mansion House gave a strong indication of that.

No one I have met, Ministers apart, believes that negotiating a new trade and market access agreement will be completed between now and next October. The best that we can look to is an agreement in principle to negotiate such a deal and then transitional arrangements that will cover the period from the end of March 2019 to the conclusion of these negotiations. In the meantime, as the Secretary of State knows, all this uncertainty is profoundly bad for business confidence, as is talking about leaving with no deal.

On the great repeal Bill, Parliament faces a huge practical task in transposing the regulations and decisions, but Ministers need to understand, in the spirit of the new consensus, that the House will enable that to happen only as long as it is crystal clear that no attempt will be made to remove, erode or undermine any of the workers’ rights, consumer protection or environmental standards that the British people have come to value.

Despite what the Prime Minister said, we have to be honest and recognise that there is not currently a consensus on the type of Brexit that we should seek, so the Prime Minister’s commitment will have to be given form through the Government’s actions. I urge Ministers to start demonstrating this new approach to the House, the British people and British businesses. I urge them to listen to the voices of the many and not just those who shouted loudest for leave during the referendum. I urge them to be flexible in their approach. Since we all want tariff-free and barrier-free trade, why do they not at the very least leave the prospect of remaining in the customs union on table, given that the Secretary of State—with, as he described it, his characteristic honesty—said on Sunday he is pretty sure but not certain that he will get the deal that he wants? I also urge Ministers to understand that, as my right hon. and learned Friend the shadow Secretary of State said so eloquently, if their confidence is misplaced, the unhappiness—indeed, the anger—that gave rise to the referendum result will return as people discover that the things that they were promised fail to materialise.

If Ministers do all the things I have mentioned, we may find a way forward. If they do not, this Parliament, be it long or short, is going to be very hard work for them. That is not where we should want to be, given the scale of the task that we face as a country as we all seek to get the best deal that we can on behalf of all the people who so recently sent us here.

Stephen Crabb – 2017 Speech on Brexit

Below is the text of the speech made by Stephen Crabb, the Conservative MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, in the House of Commons on 26 June 2017.

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for calling me to speak so early in the debate. It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for North East Fife (Stephen Gethins); I enjoyed listening to his speech and appreciate the spirit in which he made it. I think that many Members on both sides of the House will wish to return to the theme of working together pragmatically. It will certainly inform some of the remarks that I make in the next few minutes.

I have not taken many of the opportunities that we have had in this House over the past 12 months to speak about Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. In part that is because I had campaigned strongly for us to remain and on referendum day found myself part of the minority in the country, and certainly in my constituency, which voted strongly to leave. I have spent part of the past year trying to understand what drove that vote, not least in my constituency and across Wales, and how the debate is evolving. I have one or two observations to make.

First, I have been deeply impressed by the pragmatic and assiduous approach taken by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State over the past 10 months. I think that it has been appreciated on both sides of the House and, judging by what people on the continent tell me, deeply valued in the discussions with our European counterparts. Listening to his remarks today, and to those of the shadow Secretary of State, the newly right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer), I was struck by the fluidity and room for manoeuvre that exists in both Front-Bench positions.

That fluidity might reflect different shades of opinion within the Government, and certainly within the Opposition, on how we should take forward the Brexit negotiations, but it also reflects a level of pragmatism. Listening to both Front Benchers this afternoon, I asked myself whether a pragmatic centre ground might be emerging around which Members on both sides could coalesce. One of the things I took from the general election campaign is that the country remains hopelessly divided on this issue. If we in this Chamber are to do anything over the next two years, it should be to provide some kind of leadership that helps bring the country together.

Alex Chalk (Cheltenham) (Con)

No tariffs; frictionless trade; the best possible access to, but not membership of, the single market—is not the truth that there is vanishingly little difference between the strategic priorities of those on both Front Benches? Does my right hon. Friend agree that it would help our constituents, and indeed our negotiators, if all parties were to make that clear?​

Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir David Amess)

Order. Before the right hon. Gentleman replies, I appeal again to the House, because the more interventions there are, the less time there will be for the very many Members who wish to speak, including those who wish to make their maiden speeches.

Stephen Crabb

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention, because I was about to say that I was also struck by how similar the strategic objectives of both Front Bench positions actually are. The outlines are emerging of what I hope will be a pragmatic, sensible Brexit deal that can command widespread support across the country. The Government and the Opposition are united in wanting to prioritise jobs and prosperity and to protect workers’ living standards and the interests of our business community—I do not think that there is any dispute about that. However, getting an outcome that actually delivers that will require more direct honesty about some of the trade-offs that need to be made.

In particular, we need to be far more honest with the public about the trade-off between maximising access to the single market—that is not the same thing as retaining membership of the single membership—so that we can enjoy as many of the benefits of those trading relationships that we currently enjoy, and the posture we adopt towards future EU workers wishing to come to this country. We had a good discussion earlier today about the offer being made to EU citizens currently living here, and we debated it at some length. Again, the point needs to be made that, despite the acknowledgment that clearly important details have yet to be resolved, we have the outlines of a deal with the European Union, which is a big step forward. If we carry the same spirit of pragmatism and generosity that has informed that offer into our negotiations on future EU workers, while also keeping an eye on the economic importance of people coming from overseas to work in this country—we do not debate that enough—there is a deal to be done that will give us a good chance of maximising trading access to the single market and protecting our economic interests as far as possible.

Over the past year I have looked at different economic sectors and asked myself which group of EU workers, whether in the NHS, the road haulage industry or our agri-food sector, should not be here in a post-Brexit scenario. The truth is that one cannot put one’s finger on any significant group of EU workers currently here and contributing to our economy about whom we would say, “It would be better for this country if they weren’t here, and actually we should design a Brexit that will stop them coming here.”

By focusing on our economic interests and being honest with the public—there is a particular challenge on my side of the House to us to debate this with our constituents in a more direct and honest way than we have perhaps been willing to do in recent years—I think we can move some of the opinion in the country that undoubtedly opted for Brexit a year ago because people thought that that was the change button for reducing immigration. The truth is that it is not, and we need to be honest about that.

I am optimistic, having listening to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and the shadow Secretary of State, that there is a pragmatic and sensible centre ground that can emerge and around which we can ​coalesce, that will command the support of the business community—which at the moment feels that its voice needs to be louder in the Brexit discussions—and trade unions, and will reassure British workers and give us the best possible chance of enhancing, not diminishing, our prosperity in the years ahead.