Kelly Tolhurst – 2019 Statement on Recall of Tumble Dryers

Below is the text of the statement made by Kelly Tolhurst, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in the House of Commons on 17 June 2019.

The Government take the safety of electrical products very seriously. For our children, relatives and families, we all want our homes to be places of safety and security. I provided an update to the House at departmental questions last week on the most recent steps taken by the Office for Product Safety and Standards in respect of Whirlpool tumble dryers. This follows the OPSS review of the actions taken by Whirlpool in relation to its corrective action. The findings of the review were published on 4 April. The OPSS review examined in detail the modification programme put in place by Whirlpool as well as technical documents supplied by Whirlpool. The review concluded that the risk posed by modified tumble dryers is low.

The Office for Product Safety and Standards produced a list of required actions for the business to take, and Whirlpool was given 28 days to respond, outlining the actions that it would take. The response received from Whirlpool was considered to be inadequate. As a result, the OPSS has written to Whirlpool to inform the company of its intention to serve a recall notice under the provisions of the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 in respect of the unmodified tumble dryers that remain in homes in the UK. As required by law, Whirlpool was given 10 days’ notice of that intention, which allowed it time to submit its views prior to the service of the recall notice or to seek arbitration in line with the provisions in the GPSR. Officials in the OPSS are reviewing Whirlpool’s response to determine whether it fully meets the requirements laid down in the draft recall notice.

At this time, all enforcement options remain on the table, including serving a formal recall notice. It would be inappropriate for me to comment further while the legal process is ongoing, but I will update the House in due course. It is important to stress that consumers who have had their affected tumble dryers modified can continue to use them and that those with an unmodified affected tumble dryer have been urged to unplug them and to contact Whirlpool. I encourage all consumers to register their appliances to ensure they receive updates on product modification and recalls. The OPSS will continue to monitor the situation closely and will take any steps it deems appropriate to ensure that consumers in the UK continue to enjoy the high levels of protection they have come to expect.

Matt Hancock – 2019 Statement on Contaminated Sandwiches in NHS

Below is the text of the speech made by Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health, in the House of Commons on 17 June 2019.

I would like to update the House on the actions the Government are taking to protect the public following cases of listeria in hospitals linked to contaminated food. The NHS has identified nine confirmed cases of listeria in seven different hospitals between 14 April and 28 May this year, all linked to contaminated sandwiches from a single supplier. All the known cases involve in-patients. Very sadly, five people have died. I would like to express my condolences to the families of those who have lost a loved one. I promise that there will be a full and thorough investigation, with severe consequences if there is any evidence of wrongdoing.

Lab testing indicated a link between two cases in Manchester Royal Infirmary and one case in Liverpool. Contaminated sandwiches were identified as the likely cause by Public Health England. The manufacturer—The Good Food Chain—and its supplier, North Country Cooked Meats, have withdrawn the sandwiches, and voluntarily ceased supply of all products on 7 June. They are both complying with the Food Standards Agency on a full product withdrawal. The other cases have been identified at these hospitals: Royal Derby, Worthing, William Harvey in Ashford, Wexham Park, Leicester Royal Infirmary, and St Richards in Chichester.

The risk to the public is very low, but any patients or members of the public with concerns should contact NHS 111 or, of course, 999 if they experience severe symptoms. Listeria infection in healthy people may cause mild illness but is rarely fatal. However, for certain groups it can be much more serious, as we have tragically seen. The NHS, Public Health England and the Food Standards Agency have acted swiftly to identify, contain and investigate the cause of this listeria outbreak. These deaths should never have happened. People rightly expect to be safe and looked after in hospitals, and we must ensure that we take the necessary steps to restore that trust that the public deserve to be able to hold.

This is not just about ensuring that the food we serve in hospitals is safe—the NHS served 140 million main meals to in-patients last year—but, importantly, is also about ensuring that food given to patients is healthy, nutritious, and aids their recovery. So I can inform the House that we are launching a root-and-branch review of all the food in our hospitals—both the food served and the food sold. The Government will work with the NHS to build on progress in three vital areas. First, there is eliminating junk food from hospitals. Since the introduction of the NHS action on sugar scheme, we have halved the sale of high-sugar soft drinks, and trusts are taking action to remove unhealthy food and drink items and replace them with healthier alternatives. After all, hospitals are places for good health. Secondly, on improving nutrition, new national standards for all healthcare food will be published this year. All patient menus will have to ensure that minimum patient nutrition ​standards are met. Thirdly, on healthier choices, we will work closely with the Hospital Caterers Association and others to ensure that healthier food choices are available across the NHS.

The review will identify where we need to do more, where we need to do better to improve the quality of food in our hospitals, and how we help people to make healthier choices. I know that this is an issue that many colleagues in the House feel strongly about, as do the public. We will do everything we can to ensure that the food we eat in hospitals is both safe and healthy.

Chris Grayling – 2019 Statement on the Transport Council

Below is the text of the statement made by Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport, in the House of Commons on 13 June 2019.

The Transport Council took place in Luxembourg on Thursday 6 June. This was the only Transport Council under the Romanian presidency (the presidency). The UK was represented by the UK’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU, Katrina Williams.

The Council reached a general approach on the third tranche of the “mobility package” for a legal framework for the electronic communication of freight transport information. The UK welcomed the work that the presidency had done to achieve compromises on this text, as did a number of other member states.

The presidency gave a progress report on the proposal from the third tranche of the “mobility package” to streamline planning and approval processes for projects on the trans-European transport network (TEN-T). Some delegations took the opportunity to flag outstanding concerns including scope, the role of the single competent authority and the duration of the permit granting process.

There was also a progress report on the proposal from the first tranche of the “mobility package” hired vehicles directive, although discussion illustrated that there are still outstanding issues to be resolved.

The Council was also given a progress report on the proposal from the first tranche of the “mobility package” to revise the current directive on Eurovignette (road charging). The UK intervened to highlight the need for flexibility in determining national charging schemes, a view shared by a number of other member states.

Over lunch, Ministers from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and the Ukraine along with representatives from the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development participated in a joint discussion with the Council and Commissioners Bulc and Hahn on the progress made by the eastern area partnership (EaP) in developing the external dimension of the TEN-T policy. Welcoming the progress made in relation to road safety, TEN-T connectivity and planning for future investment in transport infrastructure, the Council endorsed the joint EU-EaP declaration as a road map for future co-operation.

Later, the Council was given a further progress report on negotiations on the proposals to revise the regulation on rail passengers’ rights and obligations.​
Finally, there were several information points from member states, the presidency and Commissioner Bulc under any other business. Several member states supported Luxembourg’s call for consideration of aviation taxation as an additional means to tackle emissions reduction. The presidency gave information on discussions in other Councils on “A clean planet for all”, the Commission’s long-term climate strategy. On addressing airspace capacity, Commissioner Bulc noted the recent publications of the airspace architecture study and the wise person’s report on the future of air traffic management. The Commission noted the first findings of its study on sustainable transport ​infrastructure charging and the internalisation of transport externalities, which was published on the day of the Council, and updated the Council on the connectivity outcomes of the EU-China summit. The presidency provided an update on current legislative proposals and the Polish delegation provided information on the conference on “Benefits for regions resulting from the implementation of the route Via Carpatia”. Finally, Finland presented transport plans for its forthcoming presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Jim Cunningham – 2019 Speech on University Hospital Coventry

Below is the text of the speech made by Jim Cunningham, the Labour MP for Coventry South, in the House of Commons on 13 June 2019.

I am grateful to Mr Speaker for granting me the opportunity to raise this issue, which is very important to my constituents in Coventry South. I am sure it is also important to the constituents of colleagues from Warwickshire.

I thank my colleagues—my hon. Friends the Members for Coventry North East (Colleen Fletcher), for Coventry North West (Mr Robinson) and for Warwick and Leamington (Matt Western), and the hon. Members for Nuneaton (Mr Jones), for Rugby (Mark Pawsey) and for North Warwickshire (Craig Tracey)—for their support. Together, we sent a letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to request a meeting to discuss these issues, and I am keenly awaiting a response. Many of those colleagues also attended an informative meeting with two surgeons from the hepato-pancreato-biliary unit at University Hospital Coventry, Mr Khan and Mr Lam. The point of the letter was that we wished to discuss the transfer of the HPB unit, which provides pancreatic services at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire, to hospitals in Birmingham and Worcester.

UHCW has been developing pancreatic cancer services since 1990. It has an excellent team of doctors, specialists, nurses, surgeons and other healthcare professionals, and has completed more than 1,000 major operations and thousands of other therapies. It deploys cutting-edge robotic, endoscopic and radiologic technology to treat patients in Coventry. It takes a patient-centred approach to its service, resulting in excellent feedback from those who have undergone treatment in its care. The success of the department cannot be denied. The outcomes of therapies are on a par with international standards in all spheres. Proposals to shut down this extremely successful department will be a great loss to the NHS.

Matt Western (Warwick and Leamington) (Lab)

I thank my hon. Friend for giving way. He is making a very important point. Does he agree that one of the key issues, as he was just alluding to, is that with any potential loss of service comes not just the potential loss of reputation but the issue of what sort of haemorrhaging effect it may have on the rest of this great hospital?

Mr Cunningham

Yes, I fully agree with my hon. Friend. That was one of the points made by the surgeons whom I and the hon. Member for Nuneaton met a few weeks ago.

These proposals stem from the 2014 regional review of services. They are based on the fact that the UHCW was not providing care for enough people, according to the requirements of the Department of Health and Social Care and commissioning guidelines. There were serious capacity constraints at University Hospital Birmingham, leading to multiple cancellations of operations on the day and prolonged waiting times. The process of the review was in fact challenged by a legal notice. The initial proposal stated that UHB and UHCW services should be amalgamated, with the teams working together to develop a model that would provide more efficient services in the west midlands and maintain operating at both sites, with the joint service to be led by UHB.​

Mr Marcus Jones (Nuneaton) (Con)

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on securing this debate. These are important services that my constituents also access. Clearly, amalgamating these services is of concern to me as it will take away the choice of residents as to whether they want treatment at Coventry or Birmingham. As the population is growing significantly in our area, amalgamating those services may also lead to longer waiting times. Does he agree with me?

Mr Cunningham

The hon. Gentleman makes a valid point, and I will be touching on that a little later on in my comments.

As a bigger hospital in one of the UK’s biggest cities, UHB had a great deal of influence over these discussions. It soon became apparent to the UHCW team that the sacrifices would be one-sided. UHCW felt that it must pull out of the talks, as it was clear that its services would be downgraded and its specialised work would be removed completely—services that it had worked hard to develop. That would be detrimental to the people of Coventry, Warwickshire and beyond.

In November 2018, NHS England served a formal notice on UHCW to transfer specialised liver and pancreas services to UHB in Birmingham or risk decommissioning. UHCW was denied the opportunity to establish the population base required to be an independent centre. There is now a concerted effort from UHB trust management and NHS England to enforce the takeover of the HPB centre at Coventry.

The simple and accepted solution, which is in line with the professional recommendations, is to implement the agreement between UHCW, Worcester Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and Wye Valley NHS Trust to provide the liver and pancreas specialised service at UHCW NHS Trust. It is important to highlight the ongoing capacity constraints at UHB. The realignment from Worcester and Hereford to UHCW would effectively fulfil the required population base to be an independent centre—as per Department of Health and Social Care guidelines—and also reduce the very long waiting times for cancer operations and improve access.

The proposals demonstrate more short-sighted, efficiency-obsessed thinking from NHS England based on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines. The findings of the 2015 review, which stated that UHCW’s HBP unit does not serve enough people, totally ignored the good standard of pancreatic care at UHCW. It is of the highest quality and helps to provide patients with the best possible outcomes. NHS England’s proposals threaten the standard of care, which I will raise shortly. The proposals will have a detrimental impact on those in need of this care in Coventry and elsewhere in Warwickshire.

Although the 2015 review stated that the HPB unit did not reach the population requirements, thousands of lives are saved because of the outstanding service that the team at UHCW have developed. The most obvious problem that my constituents in Coventry South, and people in east Warwickshire, will be faced ​with is geographical, as the hon. Member for Nuneaton said. Many of them will have to travel about 16 miles for treatment, which will be very costly. They will have to take trains, and we all know the problems associated with that. The time it will take patients who currently use the service to travel to Birmingham is unfair. Patient access will no doubt be reduced, as the journey time, as my colleagues from Coventry will be well aware, is about an hour by car and over 80 minutes by public transport. The journey time for patients who currently use the service at UHCW and live outside Coventry, in rural areas out of the reach of public transport, will be considerably longer and the journey will be considerably more expensive. NHS England will directly increase the stress and physical discomfort that patients and family members will have to endure. In addition, once patients have made the hour-long, or hours-long, journey to UHB, there will be a good chance that their treatment will be cancelled or delayed.

University Hospital Birmingham specialises in liver transplants, and it has a success rate that the whole of the west midlands is immensely proud of. Understandably, those operations take priority because of the speed with which they need to take place. Patients at the hospital who have other, slightly less urgent, conditions find that their operations are routinely cancelled in place of a liver transplant. Moving pancreatic services to Birmingham will dramatically increase the number of patients at risk of having their vital operation cancelled. Any patient who suffers from pancreatic cancer, or people who have a family member who has died from this terrible disease, will know that the speed of detection and the speed of treatment are absolutely vital to survival. It is extremely hard to detect, and, as a result, doctors need to act quickly after a patient has been diagnosed. Any delay to operations decrease the chances of survival even further.

The closure of the HPB unit at UHCW also poses a risk to the overall status of the hospital. By closing a key unit, the hospital is at risk of losing its specialist status, and, as a result, being downgraded to a district hospital. That will have a domino effect on the rest of the hospital.

Matt Western

My hon. Friend is making some very powerful points. For me, one of the most staggering facts —I am sure he will agree—is the sheer scale of the number of such operations that are undertaken at Coventry—5,000 over the past two years, I believe. That does not seem a small figure to me. Does he agree that it is surprising that this is even being considered in the first place?

Mr Cunningham

Of course, I totally agree. As I have outlined, it is not about just the volume of operations but their quality, and the skill of the surgeons, the nurses and all the auxiliary staff who do the best that they can for the patients. UHCW will inevitably lose its most skilled doctors and staff, and see the disintegration of the team, service and leadership that the unit has spent so long building.

Finally, I understand that UHCW has written to NHS England outlining its opposition to these proposals—something that I fully support, as I am sure my colleagues here do. It is concerning that UHCW may face these proposals being forced upon it by NHS England, justified by guidelines that have little thought or respect for the quality of care already being provided and the concerns of local people. Not only do these guidelines ignore the quality of care, but NHS England has shown an incapacity ​to implement them fairly and equally across the country. There was a similar case in Stoke, but rather than close the unit, NHS England allowed it to carry on operating as normal, despite not meeting the population requirements. Will the Minister guarantee that NHS England will work with UHCW and support it by allowing it to continue to provide these outstanding services to the people of Coventry and Warwickshire?

Angela Eagle – 2019 Speech on Brexit and Parliament

Below is the text of the speech made by Angela Eagle, the Labour MP for Wallasey, in the House of Commons on 12 June 2019.

It is a great privilege to follow the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve) and the speech he has just given. I fear that the trajectory of the entire Brexit debate since the referendum, with everything that has happened, is pushing us to the extremes of that debate, because we had a Prime Minister who simply did not bring the country back together, or seek to do so. She decided that the way through this conundrum was to appease the unappeasable Brextremists in her own party. It is hard to see whether there will be the kind of consensus and bringing back together of our fragmented country for which my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Gareth Snell) wishes.

I see us heading towards a final choice between no deal and revocation but, in the absence of that choice being before us today, the modest measure that we are debating gives us a chance as a Parliament to have an insurance policy against careering off into the catastrophe of no deal. A newly elected leader of the Conservative party with no democratic mandate from the country and no majority in Parliament might manipulate the way in which this House works to deny us the chance to express what we have already expressed clearly: there is no majority in this Parliament to take this country out of the European Union without a deal. To me, that is a modest proposal.

Lady Hermon

The Brexit Secretary studiously avoided questions about the Government’s commitment to the Good Friday agreement. Does the hon. Lady agree with me that taking this country out of Europe without a ​deal would have very serious consequences for Northern Ireland? Sinn Féin would certainly be incentivised to campaign for a border poll were there any hardening of the border, which would be inevitable with a no-deal Brexit. Heaven help us, but think what dissident republicans might do if there were to be no deal.

Ms Eagle

I agree with the hon. Lady. She is absolutely right to point out the Irish dimension of the entire debate. That many Conservatives seem willing to cast the Good Friday agreement into the flames has been an astonishing aspect of this debate.

Members of the Conservative party opposed to this modest insurance policy describe it as a constitutional outrage, that this Parliament should seek to ensure that the country is not driven off the cliff of a catastrophic no-deal Brexit. In seeking to put aside one modest day of debate, to try to pass a Bill—which would need a majority in this House and to get through the House of Lords—to prevent that scenario, they suggest that we are somehow upending years of constitutional propriety.

I would listen to such self-serving arguments with far more patience had we not had a Government who have spent the past few years disregarding all sorts of constitutional propriety in how they have run this Parliament: gerrymandering the number of people on Select Committees, wilfully ignoring Opposition motions and finally refusing even to participate in votes, and being quite happy to ride roughshod over centuries of constitutional convention for their own aims. They then get themselves in a lather about the very modest motion that we are debating.

In the interests of the economic prosperity and security of this country, we have to prevent the Government party and any new Prime Minister behaving like a latter-day Charles I, seeking to govern without this Parliament. If we have to do that by using a modest Bill, that is the least we can do. There is no way, for the legitimacy of what we do in the future, that this Parliament must allow a Government without a majority and a new Prime Minister who does not have a direct electoral mandate to cause a no-deal Brexit without referring this back to the people.

There is only one way, in the end, of solving the constitutional issues facing us, and that is through either a general election or another referendum. In any case, it is the people who must decide how we go forward. We are not going to allow any newly elected head of the Conservative party to take that decision away from the British people. That is why I support the very modest change before us today to put that insurance policy on to the statute book.

Dominic Grieve – 2019 Speech on Brexit and Parliament

Below is the text of the speech made by Dominic Grieve, the Conservative MP for Beaconsfield, in the House of Commons on 12 June 2019.

I listened carefully to the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Gareth Snell), just as I listened to what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union said at the Dispatch Box, and to my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash). Each of them has picked up an issue and said to the House, “What is proposed is unusual and rather unsatisfactory. Let’s leave it; the House can do something else later,” but anybody who pays any attention to the way our Standing Orders operate ought to realise that there is no other opportunity than this, if the House wishes to assert its collective authority and be guaranteed a say in the event of an incoming Prime Minister wishing to take us out of the EU on a no-deal Brexit. There might be a desire to support that, but my point is that we will have no say. On that point, I am afraid that the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent Central is absolutely, wholly mistaken.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State produced a series of obfuscatory facts that entirely glossed over the reality, which is that the Government can control the Order Paper between now and 31 October in a way that allows them to take us out of the EU with no deal, if an incoming Prime Minister—my right hon. Friend is in no position to speak for them—chooses to do that. That is the reality facing the House.

Throughout this whole unhappy business of Brexit, I have tried to ensure a process that avoids chaos. I say this to my hon. Friends on the Conservative Benches: if we get to a point where a Prime Minister is intent on taking us out of the EU with no deal, the only way of stopping that Prime Minister will be to bring down their Government. I have to say here and now that I will not hesitate to do that, if that is attempted, even if it ​means resigning the Whip and leaving the party. I will not allow this country to be taken out of the EU on a no-deal Brexit without the approval of this House, and without going back to the country and asking it if that is what it wants.

I desire the best for my party as a loyal member of it, and this is probably the last opportunity for a sensible way of influencing the outcome. Of course it is imperfect. The truth is that we need a hook on which to hang a Bill, so it was inevitable that the wording would be as it is today. There is no other way of doing this. It might be nicer if there were, but there is not. That, quite plainly, is the choice. I was elected Member of Parliament for Beaconsfield to represent my constituents’ interests. No deal is not in their interests, nor is there the smallest shred of evidence that there is a majority for that chaotic and appalling proposal, yet I have to face up to the fact that some people who wish to lead my party appear to believe that it is a viable option—indeed, appear to believe that they cannot become leader of the party if that is an option that they are not prepared to put forward. That is all part of a process, I am afraid, of further deceit, which is slowly swallowing up democracy in this country, and the reputation of this House.

I shall support the motion. I disagree on most things with the Leader of the Opposition, and I disagree fundamentally with every tenet of his philosophical outlook, but this is the only opportunity we have. I will not say to my children and grandchildren, “When it came to it, I just decided to give up.” I will not do that.

Gareth Snell – 2019 Speech on Brexit and Parliament

Below is the text of the speech made by Gareth Snell, the Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, in the House of Commons on 12 June 2019.

On the subject of phantom Bills, there is one that has haunted this subject for many years now and he has just had nine minutes of debate time, so I shall try to be brief.

First, I thank my Front-Bench colleagues, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer) and my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington (Jenny Chapman), who has listened with distinction to every complaint I have had about the Labour party’s Brexit process over the past two years and has done so with good grace and a smile on her face, which is difficult when talking to me.

I very much enjoyed the speech by the hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford (Nick Boles). He said that representatives of constituencies like mine have to be able to look their constituents in the eye when it comes to manufacturing jobs and the viability of the traditional industries, but I fear we have already passed that point. I have been asked time and again by the British Ceramic Confederation and those in the ceramics industries to vote for a deal. They have asked me to vote for a deal so that they can make preparations for the future. Food manufacturers in my constituency have told me that they need me to make a decision so that we can get past stockpiling. They have told me time and again that they need a resolution.

Although I understand exactly what the hon. Gentleman said, I have not done it: on the three occasions when the opportunity presented itself to me, I have not voted for a deal. The most recent time, on 29 March, I followed my party line and would not support the deal that was put in front of me. I made a mistake: on that day I should have voted for a deal. I will now vote for a deal if one is brought forward, because it is inconceivable that we can continue with this line of debate in which we seek to make the decisions that we want to make and avoid making the decisions that we have to make.

I do not object to the content of the motion, but I will not be voting for it. I shall abstain and withhold my vote, but not because I believe that no deal is something we should play with or that no deal is acceptable. I have voted continually to prevent no deal—I have ruled it out and taken it off the table—but in doing so all I have actually done is make the table longer and put it further away. Delaying Brexit does not stop no deal being the ultimate default endpoint; it just pushes it further into the future.

We do not have a European Commission until 1 November, so any talk of renegotiation and future deals is completely pie in the sky. As many leadership candidates can talk about that as they wish, but by the point that the new Commission is available to endorse any changes, the date on which we exit will have passed. The choice that faces this House is not more parliamentary procedure and chicanery to quell our souls and let us feel we have all done the best we could to prevent no deal. We have to make the simple choice that is in front of us: do we want a deal or do we wish to revoke? If the answer is to revoke, the House can make its views known—there are plenty of mechanisms for doing so.

Anna Soubry

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Gareth Snell

No. I am going to carry on because of the time.

If the answer is to support a deal, I say to members of my own party that we will have been responsible for a no—

Dr Phillip Lee (Bracknell) (Con)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Gareth Snell

No. I am really sorry, but I am going to carry on.

Dr Lee

On that small point.

Gareth Snell

No, I am not giving way.

We will be responsible for a no-deal Brexit by default, because of our inability to make a decision. That will not be helped if we allow ourselves today to be drawn down this route, with a two-clause Bill that brings us towards a date in September when something might come forward.

The fact is that there is a deal. It is not a great deal, but it is what we are presented with. We can make decisions only on things that are presented to us. Until we face up to that, instead of messing around on what we want to do, we will make no progress, and my manufacturing constituents may be at the mercy of no deal. That will be the responsibility of everybody in this House who refuses to decide between the deal and revoking.

Nick Boles – 2019 Speech on Brexit and Parliament

Below is the text of the speech made by Nick Boles, the independent MP for Grantham and Stamford, in the House of Commons on 12 June 2019.

Two groups of right hon. and hon. Members will be finding today’s vote especially difficult. Many friends on the Conservative Benches will feel torn between their loyalty to their party and their clear understanding of the national interest. I know as well as anyone the great strain that they may be feeling this afternoon. I, too, was an instinctive loyalist—someone who towed the party line, ambitious for high office. I did not see anything wrong in that and, on most questions, I still do not see anything wrong in it, and nor is there anything ignoble about the desire to stay on good terms with the members of one’s local party.

For each of us, however, there comes a moment and an issue that demands that we put such concerns to one side and do the uncomfortable thing, because we know that our constituents’ best interests demand it. I do not believe that any hon. Member with a concern for the welfare of sheep farmers or for people working in car factories will be able to look them in the eye after a no-deal Brexit has led to the decimation of Britain’s lamb exports and the destruction of thousands of highly skilled and well-paid manufacturing jobs. That is surely reason enough to support the motion today.

The other group for whom today’s vote is hard is Labour Members who represent constituencies that voted by a clear majority to leave the European Union. ​They feel that they are duty bound to ensure that the UK does leave the EU and are worried that a vote for today’s motion will be misrepresented as an attempt to block Brexit. My constituents voted the same way, and I feel the same obligation, but today’s motion does not block Brexit—not even close. Today’s motion would secure an opportunity to debate a Bill on 25 June, so that Parliament, as my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) said, can vote in September on the new Prime Minister’s plan for Brexit.

Sir William Cash

The hon. Gentleman refers to a Bill, but he does not know what it will contain, or perhaps he does. Will he enlighten us? Does it not really attempt to unwind the repeal of the 1972 Act, in so far as it deals with the question of deal or no deal? That is what the law says.

Nick Boles

The right hon. Member for West Dorset answered that question very adequately. The Bill simply provides Parliament with an opportunity in September to vote on the new Prime Minister’s plan for Brexit so that we do not leave with a no-deal Brexit on 31 October, as the law currently provides, without Parliament having had a chance to vote.

If my old friends on the Conservative Benches, the true champions of one nation, and my new friends on the Labour Benches, the representatives of thousands of decent leave voters in the midlands and the north, find a way to support today’s motion, much more than a day of the Order Paper will have been won: this House will have seized the chance to defend its rights and freedoms against an arrogant Executive hellbent on implementing an extreme policy; the British people will have been given the opportunity to slow their leaders’ lemming-like rush towards a no-deal Brexit; and the world will have been given reason to believe that the psychodrama of the Tory party’s leadership contest does not define us as a nation, that Britain has not taken leave of its senses and that the House of Commons is a place in which grown-ups come together to take responsibility for securing the future of our country.

Oliver Letwin – 2019 Speech on Brexit and Parliament

Oliver Letwin

Below is the text of the speech made by Oliver Letwin, the Conservative MP for West Dorset, in the House of Commons on 12 June 2019.

I am delighted to follow the right hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir Vince Cable). Much that needed to be said has already been said, so I shall not tediously repeat it. I want to make two points that I do not think have been sufficiently brought out so far in the debate and that might influence hon. Members who are still undecided about how to vote in a few minutes’ time.

First, almost everyone who has spoken has agreed that it would be wrong for the UK to leave the EU without a deal, without Parliament having the chance for a decisive vote. We have no way of telling in advance how that vote would go, or whether Parliament would have an alternative. It has rightly been pointed out that without an alternative we could not prevent no deal from occurring, and it also is questionable whether there would be a majority for any alternative. However, almost everyone has agreed that we need to leave open the option for Parliament to make its mind up in such a decisive vote.

It has been pointed out repeatedly that one possible means of preventing such a vote is a prorogation. I am indeed concerned about that, but I accept that we might be in luck and have a Prime Minister who does not seek to use that route. However, I want to draw hon. Members’ attention to a point that has not come out so far, which is that prorogation is not by any means the only way in which an incoming Prime Minister who was determined ​to leave with or without a deal—as many have put it—could avoid having a decisive vote. They would not need to go to the lengths of prorogation; in fact, they would not need to do anything. If they introduced nothing to the House of Commons to give us an opportunity for such a vote, the House would not, in the absence of this motion and what follows it, have any such opportunity.

Sir William Cash

My right hon. Friend has just referred to this motion “and what follows it”. This is a phantom motion about a phantom Bill. Will he illustrate exactly what we are meant to be talking about, as he did before, because a few months ago there were five Bills—we ended up with a No. 5 Bill? Will he please tell us what specific wording he would import into this motion if it were to be carried to the next stage?

Sir Oliver Letwin

My hon. Friend will not need to wait very long. If, but only if, this motion is passed today, it will be proper for those who put it forward to publish a sixth Bill, which it will be the job of the House to inspect and on which the House will take a view. It could be that the Bill will be defeated, but that will be a question for the democracy of our Parliament.

Sir William Cash rose—

Sir Oliver Letwin

I will not give way. I am sorry.

The point I am trying to make is that it is not necessary to prorogue to prevent a vote. The incoming Prime Minister would simply need to avoid taking any action. In those circumstances, we would leave on 31 October, and only after that would we need emergency legislation to catch up with the fact that we had left—

Sir William Cash rose—

Lady Hermon (North Down) (Ind) rose—

Sir Oliver Letwin

I will not give way. I am terribly sorry, but I promised the Speaker that I would be quick and I am going to be quick.

We would then all be forced to vote for that emergency legislation because we could not possibly leave the country exposed to the fact that it had left without a deal and without due legislative preparation. So it is perfectly possible for an incoming Prime Minister to avoid any decisive vote unless we force one, and that is the purpose of reserving the day.

My second point relates to that, and again I do not think it has fully come out in the debate so far. My right hon. Friend the Brexit Secretary has said that there is no reason to act now because there is no emergency—we are not facing immediate withdrawal without a deal, as we were when the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) and I put forward measures to prevent that and to ensure that we sought an extension—and of course he is right: we have until 31 October. That sounds like a long way away, but in parliamentary terms it is not. If we do not do these things now and on 25 June, and in the House of Lords thereafter, and if we do not have in place a process that leads to forcing a decisive vote in this House in early September on whatever the new Prime Minister puts forward, there will be no legislative time to do this, because the House traditionally sits for only two weeks in September and a couple of weeks in October.​

That is well known to incoming Prime Ministers, and all the candidates are filled with sagacity and understanding of Parliament, so they will know perfectly well that they only have to occupy four weeks with doing nothing and we will be out. So, although it is not a fast-burning fuse, it is a bomb, and the fuse is already burning. If we do not put the fuse out now, we will not be able to disassemble the bomb in September or October.

Sir William Cash

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Sir Oliver Letwin

I am terribly sorry, but I will not.

That is why it is wrong to say that this proposal is premature. It may be right or wrong to vote for this motion this evening, but it is the only time we are ever going to get, and I hope that my hon. Friends and Opposition Members who are wavering about whether to support it recognise that they will have to look back if they do not support it now. If we fail, as we may well do this afternoon, they will have to look back on that as the direct cause of, in all likelihood, our leaving on 31 October without a deal. It is because I do not wish to have that on my conscience that I have taken the uncomfortable step of signing a motion that has at the head of it the name of the Leader of the Opposition, whose party I do not follow and with whose policies I generally profoundly and radically disagree. However, this is an issue so important that it transcends party politics, and I owe it to my fellow countrymen to ensure that we do not descend into a no-deal exit without Parliament having had a decisive vote.

Vince Cable – 2019 Speech on Brexit and Parliament

Below is the text of the speech made by Vince Cable, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, in the House of Commons on 12 June 2019.

It is a privilege to speak in this debate as one of the signatories to the motion, but I want to start by paying tribute to the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin), who has not just signed this motion but anticipated the potential threat to the country, and indeed the sovereignty of the House, from proroguing and has applied his mind to a procedure for stopping it. We should all be very grateful to him. Of course although today is an Opposition day, this motion is supported by seven different parties. I hope and expect that a significant number of Conservatives will support it, not because they share my view that we should be stopping Brexit, but because they are concerned about the sovereignty of Parliament and the consequences of no deal.

Fingers have been pointed at the right hon. Member for Esher and Walton (Dominic Raab), who is not present. He is probably not alone in advocating prorogation as a solution to this problem, but actually he has done us a favour and we should be grateful to him for highlighting a risk that might not otherwise have been apparent. I believe the real risk here is that one of the mainstream leadership candidates, having made unqualified commitments to remove Britain from the EU by 31 October, encounters the same arithmetic as his predecessor and encounters the constraints of the withdrawal agreement, and in order to avoid the humiliation of the present Prime Minister feels obliged to resort to drastic action. That is the risk that we face and I am grateful to the right hon. Member for West Dorset for starting a process of providing a necessary safety valve.

It has already been agreed that we do not want an extensive review of all the arguments for and against no deal. They have been endlessly rehearsed and we will get plenty of time to rehearse them again. But in the few minutes I want to take, it is worth drawing attention to a couple of recent developments that underline just how dangerous that concept is.

We have just had a visit from President Trump, who has reminded us about the instability of the world trading system. Those who advocate leaving without a deal place their faith in something called WTO rules. We now know that these WTO rules are worthless. ​The President of the United States attaches as much value to the WTO as he does to the European Union. He wants to destroy it. He is undermining it. He is failing to provide judges to dispute panels, which no longer work. So WTO rules are not worth the paper they are written on. That is the world into which the extreme advocates of no deal want to plunge the United Kingdom.

The other point, which is highly topical, relates to the leadership competition within the Conservative party and the various fiscal bounties that are being offered to us. I suppose that, as an ageing pensioner on a high income, I should be deeply indebted to the right hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson) for thinking about me when he formulated his tax policy, but actually he is one of several candidates who threatens to blow a very large hole in the Chancellor’s provisions to deal with a no-deal Brexit.

It could be argued that the Chancellor is excessively conservative. None the less, he is sufficiently prudent to be aware that a no-deal Brexit will do significant harm to the economy and to fiscal receipts and that there has to be some reserve provision. However, we now enter a period of danger in which that reserve could well be blown on promised tax cuts. Among the many adverse consequences of a no-deal Brexit—not just those we are familiar with around the supply of drugs, the shock to trade and the impact on the economy—is a serious fiscal crisis leading in turn to currency devaluation and other economic consequences.

We will no doubt debate many times the consequences of no deal, but the risks are becoming more and more apparent. We should be grateful to those who anticipate those dangers and seek to prevent us from getting anywhere near them.