Liberal Democrats

Brexit won't fix Britain's burning issues

Catch up on Jo Swinson MP's speech to Parliament during the Withdrawal Bill debate.

By Jo Swinson, Jan 14, 2019 2:01

Two and a half years ago, on the steps of Downing Street, the Prime Minister promised to tackle society’s burning injustices.

My constituents elected me to fight for a People’s Vote and to keep our Union together.

I was glad to hear it. We could argue all day why people voted to Leave. But at the heart of it for many was a loss of faith in the basic promise that if you work hard and play by the rules, you’ll get on in life.

But nothing has changed for those the Prime Minister vowed to help. The government's been far too busy making a mess of Brexit while Jeremy Corbyn has sat back and let it happen. And what are we left with?

  • An under-funded Universal Credit bringing misery to thousands.
  • The NHS once again in the midst of a winter crisis.
  • Vulnerable people sleeping on our streets and dying on our doorstep.

We can't resolve any of this by leaving the EU.

The Leave campaign told us we were taking back control - but my constituents don’t feel that way.

The mother of two worried about her family’s security after the Prime Minister called her husband a ‘queue jumper’.

The scientist concerned about jobs in Glasgow once the life sciences industry loses its European funding.

The businesses who don’t know on what terms they will be able to sell to our biggest trading partner in three months’ time.

Theresa May has returned from Brussels with a bad deal. Brexit has become a national embarrassment.

Five years ago I fought to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom, certain in the knowledge we are better off together. It's for the same reasons that I believe Scotland’s best future is in the UK, as a proud member of our family of nations.

The Liberal Democrats have led the fight for a People’s Vote. And in 2017 my constituents elected me on a promise to fight for a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal and to keep our precious Union together.

I'm delighted that so many MPs from all parties are now saying that the public should have a final say.

Theresa May has returned from Brussels with a bad deal. Brexit has become a national embarrassment.

  • It'll make us poorer, dragging us out of the single market and out of the customs union.
  • It'll bring our NHS to its knees, leaving our most vulnerable in dear need of hard-working doctors and nurses.
  • It will weaken our union after we fought so hard to keep it together.

The Leave campaign told us we were taking back control - but my constituents don't feel that way.

In one respect, I actually agree with the Government. I believe them and the EU when they say this is the best Brexit on offer. I even agree with the Brexiteers when they say that the Prime Minister’s deal is worse than staying in Europe. But I despair at the arrogance of Conservatives and Labour MPs alike who claim they can get a better deal. They live in the land of make-believe.

But here, in the real world, there aren't any magic beans to put food on the table or pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. Even my five year old could tell them that unicorns aren’t real!

And I'm horrified by those who suggest that leaving with no deal is the way out of this mess.

How nice it must be for them, claiming for their French residency or setting up investment funds in Dublin! Meanwhile, the poorest in our society pay the price for their ideological Brexit.

It's time for the people to choose what future they want for their children.

We need a People’s Vote.

Two and a half years on, we can see that leaving the European Union won’t make us richer. It won’t bring £350m a week for the NHS and it won’t be the easiest trade deal in human history.

The Brexiteers claim that Brexit is about our sovereignty and that a People’s Vote would be a betrayal of democracy.

But how can they claim with a straight face that losing our seat at the table is taking back control?

How can they claim that turning our back on our closest neighbours is the dawn of a new global Britain?

How can Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn look people in the eye and say that a public vote on the deal is undemocratic?

There's no deal that will ever be as good as our membership of the European Union.

There's no Brexit that works for the whole of the UK. It's time for the people to choose, knowing the Brexit deal on offer, what future they want for their children.

So let's do the right thing. Let's get this dreadful deal voted down and have a People's Vote.

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