The past four years have divided our country like no other. It did not have to be that way. If only after the referendum, when David Cameron fled the crisis he had created, the new Prime Minister of the time addressed the British people directly. If only she had said that our country is divided in the middle; he voted in favour of leaving, but with a painfully narrow majority of 52:48, which is a mandate to end our EU membership, but not to destroy our relations with our closest neighbours and our main trading partners. If she had said that we would leave but stay close – focusing on the single market in a customs union and the members of the agencies we have built together for 47 years – we would have supported her. It could have won an overwhelming majority in this House. This could have brought the country back after the referendum splits. Instead, she turned to those who described her chancellor – not those on the opposition benches, but her chancellor – as the Brexit extremists in her party who threatened our country`s economy and security. The bill continues to do so. We have always rejected that approach, and that is why we will do so again today by rejecting the bill. With great foresight, my honourable friend does exactly what I wanted to say right away. Here we are, 15 years later, and at the instigation of the government, the „whatever” clause comes into force, provided that the other body is reasonable.
I pay tribute to him. He has been ridiculed, ridiculed and insulted, but he has defended the simple democratic principle that every few years the public has the opportunity to vote for people who come here and make laws. If these laws are satisfactory, they will be re-elected; Otherwise, they will be deported. They are sent here to collect money by legally deducting it from people`s bank accounts – that is what taxation is – and if that money is well spent, they are re-elected; If this is not the case, they will be deported. It`s an incredibly simple and basic idea. I find it shocking that we still hear the misery of the opposition benches talking about this simple principle. Our first problem with the bill is that, despite Parliament`s best efforts to avoid a no-deal Brexit last year, it will introduce a trap for a no deal at the end of December 2020 – something the Brexit minister seemed quite relaxed about in his comments reported following yesterday`s discussion with Ursula von der Leyen. Other Conservative MPs have expressed in recent days their full confidence – full confidence – in the government`s ability to conclude trade and security agreements by the December deadline, citing the EU`s commitment to accept a future trade deal to the best of its ability and in good faith. This good faith was clearly expressed yesterday by Mrs von der Leyen, but I hope that MEMBERS of the European Parliament have also heard her warning, repeated by Sir Edward Leigh, that it would be impossible to reach a comprehensive trade agreement by the end of 2020.
There have been promises that the rights of vulnerable refugees – children whose rights have been removed from the European Union Withdrawal Agreement (Withdrawal Agreement) act – will be enshrined in immigration law. Why remove the reunification of children with their families from the bill? I am just as stunned and puzzled as everyone else on the opposition benches. Families belong together. Politics had a bipartisan agreement. There are not many children. I have seen the conditions in which young refugee children live, and I have seen traffickers surround and pursue them. These kids are amazing. Often my children don`t go from the table to the dishwasher to put away their plates, but these children have found their way across Europe to other countries, desperate to return to their families here, who are just as desperate to see them. But we closed the door on them.
I do not understand why, and I hope it is not a sign of the kind of country we will become. Leave won the referendum in June 2016 with 51.9% of the vote, or 17.4 million votes; „Remain” received 48.1% or 16.1 million. The turnout was 72.2%. The results were counted across the UK, but the overall figures hide marked regional differences: 53.4% of English voters supported Brexit, compared to only 38% of Scottish voters. Given that England makes up the vast majority of the British population, support there influenced the outcome in favour of Brexit. If the vote had only taken place in Wales (where Leave also won), Scotland and Northern Ireland, Brexit would have received less than 45% of the vote. The Draft Law on the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) is not just about Brexit. It is first and foremost about the United Kingdom and our future. The reason why we have adopted the position we have taken on Maastricht and later on Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon, as well as in the debate of recent years and on the referendum, depends on a simple principle: the ability of the citizens of this country to govern themselves through their elected representatives on the basis of their free choice in general elections. We are not little Englishmen or we are trying to make our country less democratic. We have waged this struggle for democracy and the rights of our own people, our own voters.
That is why I am pleased that we now have a clear majority and that we can put into practice the right of the British people to govern themselves through a series of policies that are not limited by the European Union and the European Commission. I am referring to what has just been said by the Scottish nationalist benches, because in reality it is the United Kingdom, which concluded the Treaty in the first place and evaded its responsibility and sovereignty, but which is now reaffirming its status within the United Kingdom. It is about parliamentary sovereignty, and it is also about democracy, because this decision was taken by the British people with full knowledge of the electorate of the United Kingdom, not to be part of it. Three junior shadow ministers – Helen Hayes, Tonia Antoniazzi and Florence Eshalomi – resigned after abstaining on the bill. Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Labour MP for Streatham, voted against the deal. On Tuesday 12 March, Prime Minister Theresa May`s plan to leave the EU was again rejected by the British Parliament. The agreement also provides for a transitional period, which lasts until 31 December 2020 and can be extended once by mutual agreement. During the transition period, EU law will continue to apply to the UK (including participation in the European Economic Area, the Single Market and the Customs Union) and the UK will continue to contribute to the EU budget, but the UK will not be represented in EU decision-making bodies. The transition period will give businesses time to adjust to the new situation and give THE UK and EU governments time to negotiate a new EU-UK trade deal.   Almost all Conservative MPs accepted the deal, although former ministers Owen Paterson and John Redwood abstained. Paterson, a former northern Ireland minister, said he was „very torn” by the deal because the region was separate from the rest of the UK. The bill passed third reading by 330 votes to 231.
It is interesting to note that the Foreign Secretary, when summarising today`s debate, made no reference to the powerful speeches of my fellow Members about this desire to respect our rights and to the fact that in no way do we agree that the Scottish people and our country should be removed from the European Union against our will. Let us not deceive ourselves: this is exactly what is happening. Yesterday, the Scottish Parliament voted by an overwhelming majority not to give its consent. And so brexit. This was the main issue in Putney`s election: 74% of Wandsworth residents voted to stay – an even higher number than in Scotland. More than one in 10 voters in Putney come from other EU countries and is a very welcome member of our community. I believe that Brexit is an act of monumental self-harm. In Putney, I spoke to people who burst into tears at their doorstep, not only because they saw me, but also because they are more worried about their rights and status as EU citizens, no matter how many years they have been here. I`ve met NHS staff who are struggling to cope with work because so many other staff have left and returned to other EU countries, and people whose businesses have been damaged and even closed – and we haven`t even had Brexit yet. We know the risks. We know that Brexit will only take place many years from now, so my mandate to protest the damage it will cause is certainly not over. This bill will transpose the withdrawal agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union into British law and ensure that the United Kingdom leaves the European Union with an agreement at the end of this month.
We keep our promise to the British people. It was a pleasure for me to spend yesterday afternoon in committee throughout the House and I would like to pay tribute to Members from all over the House for the contributions they have made during the debates and for the constructive spirit, especially recently, in which everyone has participated. I have no doubt that today`s meeting will be of a similar caliber, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs is in his place, and I look forward to today. .