Priti stands up for Britain in Brexit Deal Debate
Witham MP Priti Patel has spoken in support of the positive future the UK has outside of the European Union during the debate on the Brexit Deal negotiated by the UK Government and the EU. Priti reiterated that she would not be supporting the proposed deal as it does not deliver Brexit and gives the “EU licence to dominate” the UK. Priti also expressed concerns that the deal would separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, prevent the UK from making new trade deals with fast-growing non-EU countries and continue to allow the EU to make laws that affect this country. Priti said:
“17.4 million people across Britain voted to leave the EU in the greatest show of democracy this country has seen, including 60% of voters in this part of Essex. They voted to take back control but the deal proposed leaves this country firmly under the thumb of Brussels.”
“We have a great opportunity outside of the EU to trade more with the rest of the world, set our own laws and invest taxpayers’ money in our own priorities. The deal put forward does not allow us to do that and takes £39 billion of our money for nothing in return. The Government must defend our national interests and pursue a better deal with the EU.”
“While pressing to renegotiate the deal, the Government must as a priority prepare for Britain to depart from the EU on WTO terms and give businesses and families the certainty they need for the future.”
Copy of Priti Patel MP’s speech in the House of Commons (10 January 2019):
I approach this debate very much conscious of the wide range of views held in the House. As we are on the second leg of this debate, following December’s discussions, this is a pertinent moment to go back to what it is we are here to focus on vis-à-vis the withdrawal agreement and how we got here. Of course, I approach this debate very much with the referendum result in mind. Nearly three years ago, this country quite remarkably put on the greatest show of democracy that we have seen, resulting in the majority—more than 17 million people—voting yes to take back control of our country. They made that choice against a range of forecasts and, to be quite crude, some pessimistic propaganda. They took a bold and brave decision to instruct us Members of Parliament, in this House and throughout the country, to take a new and different path. It was a message to us to reset the political system.
I am so grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way so early in her speech. Does she agree that, whether people voted leave or remain, at no point during the referendum campaign was there a suggestion that the rights of EU nationals who had been resident in this country, lawfully exercising their treaty rights prior to any prospective Brexit day, should be affected if the referendum resulted in a vote to leave?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right on that point. That was never a feature of the campaign at all. Of course, what did figure in the minds of the British public, irrespective of how they voted, was that the political system—us—had for far too long siphoned power away from voters and almost denuded political decision making in this country. That is where they wanted to see us come together. At the core of the vote was a desire to see our democratic, economic and political freedoms returned to our institutions and, of course, for them to see sovereignty returned, too.
The vote to leave was an endorsement not of a political individual, party or platform, but of our country. It was an expression of self-confidence in where we could go in terms of our place in the world. Amid the debates that we are currently having, the rhetoric now, the wider discussions of a second referendum or even, as some may say, attempts to block Brexit, and amid the stories in the media and a continuation of fear and scare-stories, the essence of choice—the choice that people wanted to see—is being lost. Of course, there are a wide range of views in the House, and I respect all right hon. and hon. colleagues who want their voices to be heard, but we should also remember that Parliament gave the people a choice, and Parliament voted to trigger article 50 and to leave the European Union. We are now focused on fulfilling those commitments.
That brings me to the deal that has been put forward. Of course, many of us want to see Brexit delivered, and we were impressed by the sensible and pragmatic vision for our future outside the EU that the Prime Minister outlined in her Lancaster House speech and in other speeches two years ago. That was a plan that would have restored control of our country, kept a positive partnership with our friends and allies in the EU and, of course, freed Britain to be globally focused and to form close ties with countries and friends around the world. I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister approached the EU in good faith but, as negotiations have progressed, the vision in Lancaster House and other speeches has been diluted, and ultimately ditched. We have seen the EU exercising control in the negotiation at the expense of our national interest.
The deal before us does not deliver the Brexit and the vision that the Prime Minister originally outlined. It allows the EU to continue to make our laws and to impose its Court’s judgment on us, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr Whittingdale) said earlier. It gives the EU powers to veto our foreign policy and sabotages our international trade negotiations. Ultimately, as the House has heard repeatedly, it threatens the integrity of the United Kingdom. On top of that, we are expected to pay £39 billion of taxpayers’ money, as other right hon. Members have highlighted, without guarantees of a comprehensive free trade arrangement and no prospect of departing from the horrors of the backstop without the EU’s permission. The equal partnership with the EU that the Prime Minister promised has not materialised; instead, we have a deal that gives the EU licence to dominate us for years to come.
I am conscious that earlier in the debate we heard my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs speak about the environment, fisheries and farming. As a Member of Parliament who represents a coastal community and a farming community, I have said in the House, as have colleagues, that there are so many freedoms that we want to secure outside the European Union when it comes to the common agricultural policy and the common fisheries policy, yet the deal does not secure them. Brussels will still pose ongoing threats to our fisheries, which will obviously have ramifications for us. The same is true when it comes to agricultural policy. Farmers in my constituency have raised that issue with me.
Of course, the great prize of being free from the EU to negotiate and secure trade deals with growing global markets has been lost in this deal. I do not need to remind the House that by the middle of the century the EU’s share of trade in the global economy will be less than 10%. We need to focus much more strongly on our trading relationships outside the EU. Why would we want to remain shackled to the EU and to be dependent on it to set our trade policy when we can be trading further afield? We need to work sooner rather than later to secure those relationships.
I have touched on what the deal means for our precious Union and for Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. The protocol severely damages democracy in Northern Ireland and imposes laws and rules on the people there without any representation. That goes further than the controls on the rest of the United Kingdom and is simply not acceptable. In the provisions on Northern Ireland we have seen for the first time in modern history a UK Government negotiate to cede part of our country to a foreign power. That is simply not acceptable.
The British people are tired of subservience to the EU and astonished by the one-sided negotiation process that has put the integrity of our precious Union in real danger. We will trapped in the backstop and trapped in EU institutions; Northern Ireland will be left under the control of a foreign power, which is not acceptable; and under this deal our destiny will no longer be in our own hands. The British people want national leadership that is ambitious for our country—the type of leadership that is clear as to who governs our country and where elected power and accountability lies, and they want decision making that is free from the unnecessary constraints of the EU and EU control, and with that a restoration of trust in the democratic process that does not see our political establishment renege on the referendum result or our manifesto commitments.
I believe that Parliament should deliver on these democratic, political and economic freedoms by rejecting the withdrawal agreement. We must ensure that we can go further by trying to secure the type of trading arrangements that we originally said we would, but we can do so only once we reject the withdrawal agreement and ensure that the EU is no longer in control of our country.