Ian Murray – 2019 Speech on Brexit

Below is the text of the speech made by Ian Murray, the Labour MP for Edinburgh South, in the House of Commons on 29 March 2019.

I am grateful to be called to speak in this important debate. I say at the start that I will do this afternoon what is in the best interests of the country and my constituents by not supporting this deal. I have to say that I was disappointed by the contribution of the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford). We agree on 95% of everything in this particular EU debate. To attack the Labour party, rather than the Government for the deal in front of us, perhaps shows where SNP Members’ thought processes are at the moment.

Let us not forget that the House voted for this process, against the Government’s wishes. One thing we can all say with great certainty is that, since mid-November last year, nothing has changed, either in the withdrawal agreement or in the political declaration. The only thing that has changed is the Attorney General’s legal advice. If you ask a lawyer for the conclusion that you want, and you pay them, you are likely to get what you are ​looking for. There is no trust in the Government in this place. We tried to do everything we could as a Parliament, and we had to drag the Government through hedges, to get to a place whereby we could have even this proper debate.

Jim Shannon

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Ian Murray

I will not, because it would mean that my Back-Bench colleagues will not get a chance to speak.

Today is 29 March—the day we should have left the European Union—so it is a good day to look at the report cards for the Government and the leave campaign on where we should have been by today. Where is the £350 million Brexit bonanza for our NHS? It is not there. Where is the easiest trade deal in history? Not only is it not the easiest in history, but the Government have had to take it out of this particular debate to get their deal through. Where is taking back control? Indeed, we are ceding control. Where is the promise of no border on the island of Ireland? The solution cannot be found by the Government because of the red lines they set themselves. Where are the 40 bilateral trade deals that we should have just rolled over by midnight tonight? Where is the cap and the reduction in net migration? It cannot be met. Where is more money going into our public services, when £4.2 billion is being spent on no deal? Those are not just broken promises; they also broke the law. There are no sunny uplands in this process. Today we should all say loud and clear that we are slaying the unicorns once and for all.

This is not meaningful vote 3, it is meaningful vote 2 and a half. The Government are not complying with their own legislation, and they know it. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn) was absolutely right: there is nothing wrong with somebody selling their house, but they have to know where they will go next. The Government are asking us to sell the house without knowing where we go next. It is not only that we do not know where we will go next with the political declaration, but that we do not even know who will do that negotiation. This is a blind Brexit with a blind Prime Minister and a blind Government. My hon. Friend the hon. Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds) made a wonderful speech from the Front Bench, and he was absolutely correct: the entire debate on our future relationship with the European Union will be conducted after a Conservative leadership election that could provide a Prime Minister who will rip up the political declaration and take us into territory that we do not want to be taken into.

What happens if the motion passes today but the political declaration—or, indeed, the implementation Bill—does not pass? My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds Central was absolutely correct that, come 22 May, we will again end up in the situation in which it is the Prime Minister’s deal or no deal, with no opportunity to extend the process.

In this process, the Prime Minister is the shopkeeper in the “Monty Python” sketch involving the dead Norwegian parrot, and Parliament is Mr Praline. It is quite clear that her deal is no more. It has ceased to exist. It is bereft of life. It rests in peace. It is a deal that has been nailed to its perch. It is an ex-parrot; it is an ​ex-deal. Interestingly, at the end of that sketch, the shopkeeper says, “this is getting silly”, and the sketch gives up. Prime Minister and Government: this is getting silly. Give up and listen to the House.

We might end up having to revoke article 50 come 22 May if we pass this motion but have no opportunity to do anything else. I suggest that the Government now listen to the indicative vote process that happened on Wednesday, act with dignity and respect this House as that process continues next week. They should also listen to what the public are saying. It is completely unfair that the Prime Minister can keep flogging the dead horse of her deal as many times as she likes in this House yet the public got one chance three years ago, with all the sunny uplands and broken promises they were given in 2016. Let us give the British people a confirmatory vote and let them back into the process to break the impasse in Parliament. If they still wish to leave the European Union, and if the Prime Minister is so confident about her deal, she will go to them and get them to back it. If they do not, we can maintain the best deal we have at the moment, which is to be a fully-fledged member of the European Union.