Jeremy Corbyn’s emergency debate statement
***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***
Speaking in the House of Commons, Leader of the Labour Party said:
Mr Speaker during my time in this House every Prime Minister has accepted there can be honourable disagreements and I’ve had my disagreements with each and every one of them.
That has led to many votes in this House which haven’t always been entered into with the assurance of victory.
But both sides have always done so safe in the knowledge that this Parliament is sovereign.
That this Parliament can act as an effective block on any abuse of power.
Therefore, today, I am urging all MPs from all sides to stand up for what is right, stand up for what you believe in and support this cross-party move.
Just look at what we face – a Government determined to subvert the democratic process to force through a policy which a majority of this House does not support and which has been defeated emphatically.
We face a government so determined to continue on its reckless path they are willing to use every trick in the book and find every loophole to silence this house.
We cannot stand idly by. We cannot hope for another opportunity further down the line to stop this Government’s destructive course.
There is no more time. They have taken it away. This may be our last opportunity. Today, we must act.
I understand there are people from all sides of the house under a great deal of pressure in what is regrettably an extremely volatile political climate.
But if you truly trust in what all the analysis shows including the Government’s own analysis. If you believe in what the experts say and you understand that a No Deal Brexit will be a disaster for this country – you must act now.
With that in mind I want to pay tribute to those who have shown the political courage to boldly stand up for what they believe in to bring this debate to the House.
The bullying and threat to MPs opposite from their own side is unprecedented, but let me offer some words of encouragement standing by your principles doesn’t always damage your future prospects.
And I also pay tribute to those people across all parties who have come together and continue to work to make a stand against this government’s reckless and shambolic approach.
The Prime Minister says now is not the time for Parliament to make this stand.
He says the chances of a Brexit deal are “improving” and that the outlines of an agreement are in the making.
Yet Mr Speaker, all the evidence points to the contrary.
So far in its six weeks in office this Government has spent more time trying to avoid scrutiny and trying to silence parliament than focusing on getting a good deal for this country.
And with weeks to go until we crash out of the European Union they have failed to bring forward any new proposals, especially in regard to the Irish backstop.
Even if they had worked up new plans or presented a way forward it seems very unlikely the EU would agree to the Prime Minister’s red line of scrapping the backstop.
As the Attorney General reportedly put it such a proposition would be a “complete fantasy”.
The reality is there has been no progress made in Brussels and nor is there likely to be.
This reckless government only has one plan. To crash out of the EU without a deal at whatever price to our industry, to people’s jobs, and to people’s living standards.
And that is why so many people across this House will stand up to say no to No Deal.
It has been exposed today as reported in The Telegraph which says the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff called negotiations “a sham” and the real strategy was to “run down the clock”.
That is why it is incumbent on us today to act.
Voting to block a No Deal will not kill the positive momentum in Brexit negotiations because there is no momentum in the Brexit negotiations.
What we are asking MPs to do today is to rule out playing Russian roulette with this country’s future. With our industry, with our NHS, and with people’s jobs and livelihoods all for the sake of retaining power.
Let’s not forget what no deal means for this country. No Deal will decimate our manufacturing industry. No Deal will destroy our agricultural sector. No Deal threatens peace and stability in Northern Ireland and threatens our policing and counter-terrorism co-operation with Europe.No deal will mean food shortages and medical shortages and it will bring chaos to our ports and transport networks.
Our economy is already fragile. The economy contracted in the last quarter, manufacturing has contracted at the fastest pace for seven years, and a No Deal would accelerate that decline. Now is not the time to play Russian roulette with our economy.
These aren’t the warnings of some ultra-remain group. These are the warnings outlined in the government’s own assessments and the warnings of leading industry figures.
You don’t have to take my word for it. You don’t have to listen to me. Instead listen to the likes of Make UK, who represent 20,000 British manufacturing companies. Who have said leaving without a deal would be and I quote, “the height of economic lunacy.”
Listen to the National Farmers’ Union which said a no deal would, “have a devastating impact for British food and farming” … and “must be avoided at all costs”
Or listen to the BMA which has made it clear, and again I quote: “The consequences of ‘no deal’ could have potentially catastrophic consequences for patients, the health workforce and services, and the nation’s health.”
We must listen what every sector of society is telling us regarding the damage a no deal Brexit will cause.
If we don’t make that stand today there may not be another opportunity. It may be too late.
We must listen to these warnings. If people in this House know better than the BMA, the NFU or Make UK about their own sectors or know better than the unions that represent the workers in those sectors they should say so now.
I understand there will be some concerns regarding the potential bill which may follow this debate. Some concern from members across the house that supporting such a bill would be an attempt to block Brexit or reversing the result of the 2016 referendum.
That this is not the case. The Bill does not close other options to resolve the Brexit impasse. This is purely about preventing a damaging No Deal Brexit which this government has no mandate for and for which there is little public support
This bill is designed purely to provide vital breathing space to find an alternative way through the Brexit mess this and the previous government have created.
Today is another historic day in Parliament.
It is our chance to seize this last opportunity to stand up to a bullying government, that has shown itself ready to dodge scrutiny and silence debate.
If we do not act today we may never get another chance.
Whether people voted to leave or voted to remain they did not vote to shut down our democracy.
So, Mr Speaker I urge all MPs today to do what they believe is right for their constituents their jobs, their living standards.