I’ve been in parliament all week and I’m really sorry for the meetings I had to miss in Hove to prepare for this big moment for our country.
Right now I’m in my office in parliament, eating some cereal and getting ready for what will be an intense but critical few hours for our national life.
Government have laid down two substantial motions today. The first is to show support for the government’s deal with the EU. The second is to show support for leaving the EU without a deal. So, you can see what they’re trying to do – if we vote down the deal we’ll move on to a vote on no-deal.
Phil Wilson, MP for Sedgefield in the northeast, and I have tabled our ‘Kyle-Wilson’ amendment against the second motion. Our way of doing things has always been about compromise and we’ve spoken to literally hundreds of MPs over the course of this week. What they’ve told us is they mostly want the chance to scrutinise the deal and focus 100% on that.
So by tabling against the second motion it allows us to do something quite clever – the first set of votes tonight will now all focus on the deal itself. But if the deal is defeated, the House will move straight on to a vote on the ‘Kyle-Wilson’ amendment. So the issue of the deal and referendum is separated, giving MPs the chance to think about the two separately and vote on them separately.
When the government tabled two motions like this, which is very unusual, they probably thought they were being very smart. But in fact it gave us a great opportunity!
I will do a brief speech later. The million people out there in the streets today will be high in my thoughts, as will our whole community that would be so radically affected if this deal were to pass.
People do want Brexit done, but there is something much more important to them – they want to get it right much more.
We are in the endgame of Brexit, this stage won’t drag on for much longer, but we need to get it right.
Johnson’s deal keeps Northern Ireland in the EU, probably forever. But the rest of us will be forced out on very brutal terms. This will end manufacturing that relies on trading and supply arrangements with the EU, such as motor manufacturing and aerospace, in our country. It will spell the end for the Union too, something I care very passionately about. Think about it: Northern Ireland voted to Remain in the EU and it can with this deal. Scotland voted Remain but will be forced to leave. This deal will fuel nationalism in each of our nations and force a crisis of identity that will be corrosive to our public debate and impact so many of our communities.
That is why I will be voting against this deal.
Some you agree with me, some disagree, but I hope most people will know that I’ve put my heart and soul into this. Not just to oppose, but to be constructive and find imaginative and practical ways through.
We’ve now had two entirely different deals saying they respect the will of the people. By definition they both can’t. I think you are the only people who know what you want from Brexit, and that’s why I want this deal to go to you for a final, definitive, binding say. And I promise you I’m going to give it everything I’ve got to deliver it for you.