Chi’s speech on Brexit (text and video link)

You can find the video of Chi’s speech on Brexit here, and the full text is below.

My constituency voted to remain. My country voted to leave. My conscience continues to believe that the country’s interests are best served within the EU. I believe that my job is to act in accordance with my conscience, in the interests of my constituents, within the parliamentary democracy I am proud to uphold. I believe that my constituents’ trust and belief in parliamentary democracy is the greatest security our country has against the rise of fascistic leaders and the destruction of our national value system. So it would be wrong to reject the result of the referendum. Newcastle is part of a nation, and that which unites us is greater than that which divides us. For that reason, I will vote for the Second Reading of this Bill.

 

But there is a “but”, and there was always going to be. This Government are attempting a constitutional land grab. The referendum was about the will of the people, not the will of a Prime Minister who is not even elected. Some 52% voted to leave the European Union but they did not vote to leave the single market, and they did not vote to leave the customs union.

 

The north-east is the only region in the country to export more than it imports, and more than half of that goes to the European Union. It is estimated that 160,000 jobs are directly linked to our membership of the single market, while our great universities received £155 million in EU funds in the current funding cycle alone.

 

When I talk to businesses, they are incandescent that Tories are rejecting the greatest free trade alliance on the planet. I can also tell the House that, having negotiated joint ventures, regulatory undertakings and multi-million pound contracts across three continents, I have never come across a negotiating position as inept as the one being adopted by this Government: “Give us what we want or we’ll duff up your economy.” I have zero confidence in their negotiating trade deals, in which Parliament will have no say. They will sell our socioeconomic birthright for a mess of right-wing pottage. When the Chancellor talks of changing our economic model, he means turning the UK into a low-wage, low-skilled tax haven with little or no welfare support.

 

More than a third of children in Newcastle live in poverty, and one in five of my constituents claim benefits. North-east workers are, on average, almost £4,000 a year worse off than they were 10 years ago. Am I going to vote for a Trumpian, dystopian, “alt-right” free market future for them? Absolutely not. Already, constituents are asking me questions I never expected to hear. They are asking whether they could be deported to the European Union. They want to know just how racist an insult has to be before they should complain. And they are asking whether there will be a nuclear war, and which side we would be on. The Government need to accept amendments to the Bill that will ensure that our values, our socioeconomic model and our membership of the single market are safeguarded; otherwise, democracy for my constituents, and my conscience will—

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