Brexit and Confidence in the Prime Minister

I spoke this evening in the debate on the motion of no confidence tabled by the Leader of the Opposition. This is a time of enormous uncertainty and unease nationally, and a general election at this stage would be the very last thing we need. I am very conscious of the widely differing opinions in my constituency on Brexit, as in all others, and my recent correspondence has covered a full spectrum; from those advising me that we must leave the EU with no deal to those asking that we do the opposite and remain. In fact, the only common theme has been the immense passion with which those diverse views are held. I very much respect those differences of opinion and I realise we as a nation are all uneasy about the future. I voted to remain but, the nation having expressed its view, I have in Parliament supported that decision to leave and I voted for the Prime Minister’s deal this week. I am certainly giving thought to other avenues, such as a second referendum presenting all current options, but at present if the deal comes back to be voted on in the House it is likely I will support it a second time. Whilst I recognise that some of you are not yet convinced by the deal, I believe if we are to leave the EU as the nation instructed, this is the only practical way to do so that would avoid a hard Brexit, which could be very damaging. There is no sense in seeking to vote down the Prime Minister’s deal if there is no credible alternative available to us which would both respect the referendum and avoid our leaving with no deal.

5.45 pm, Bill Grant (Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Bradford West (Naz Shah). I would argue that, when Members consider their position on the confidence motion tonight, their assessment should be based not on just one vote — however fundamental that issue is for the nation’s future — but on this Government’s record in office. Three practical measures of a Government’s relative success are taxation levels for working families, employment levels and investment in public services. It must be remembered that it is this Government who have cut taxes for ​32 million working people, so that they keep more of the money they earn. It is this Government who have seen unemployment not just decline but plummet to a record low. It is this Government who are investing more than £20 billion in the NHS for our future health, and through Barnett consequentials that will benefit NHS Scotland immensely. In the same period, all the Opposition Front Bench has achieved is an ever-changing conviction and little consensus on every issue. In fact, the only point of consensus appears to be that the Government have got it wrong on every issue. That is clearly not the case, and the facts do not support the Opposition’s somewhat gloomy assessment. This Government are pressing ahead with ongoing investment in research and development, with growth deals throughout the country, such as the one emerging in Ayrshire. They recognise the importance of the environment and have produced the 25-year Environment Plan — something never done before in the United Kingdom. They have secured a stable economy after a very weak inheritance, and they listen when changes are needed—for example, to Universal Credit. They are not a Government in crisis, as the Opposition allege in order to secure an election. They are a Government who are getting on with the business of governing. The Prime Minister has worked incredibly hard on those and other issues over the past two years, and I earnestly encourage hon. Members to support the Government tonight. With everything else that is going on and the Conservatives being the only party with a clear desire to honour the referendum, this is not the time to hold an unnecessary and unwanted general election. It is time to get on with what we have been asked to do, before our constituents lose faith in every parliamentarian in this House. I have every confidence in Her Majesty’s Conservative and Unionist Government, and I will be voting for them tonight.