Of paramount importance is the notion that democracy is a process, not an event. It is our duty to defend and deliver the will of the people. From Portsmouth to Pickering and from Penzance to Peterborough, it is essential that the referendum result is respected. However, it is clear that no one voted in the referendum for this half-baked deal put forward by the Prime Minister.
This deal is a galaxy of uncertainty. The Treasury Committee has highlighted that, explaining that the Government analysis did not assess the short-term impact of leaving the EU. When that fact was put to the Chancellor, he agreed. If the Chancellor himself agrees that the deal is uncertain, how can the Prime Minister expect MPs to gamble with the lives of their constituents?
What does this Government’s deal mean for Portsmouth? For the Queen Alexandra Hospital, it means staff shortages induced by the Prime Minister’s continuation of the hostile environment and a reduction in shared research and international co-operation, and it threatens the prosperity needed to fund our much-loved local NHS. It rules out a permanent customs union with a British say, which is vital to support Portsmouth’s businesses, local jobs and the manufacturing supply chains they depend on. It also threatens Portsmouth’s international port, which generates £7 million directly to council coffers to fund local services in an area where a third of children live in poverty and a city forgotten for too long by the Government.
Will that continue under the Prime Minister’s deal? I have asked, but unanswered questions remain. It is inevitable that multifaceted challenges are posed by exiting the EU. In my constituency, we have seen a 12% swing towards remain from the leave vote. Uncertainty perpetuated by this Government’s deal has left many others with unanswered questions. That is why 70% of people in Portsmouth South want some kind of final say when it comes to Brexit. The people need clarity. The people need control. The people need a final say. A no-deal scenario would see the most vulnerable bearing the brunt of decisions made by the few. If no-deal Brexit was imposed there would be a 29% increase in average food import costs, affecting people on the lowest incomes disproportionately.
The Palace of Westminster is the birthplace of democracy, where so many decisions have been made to shape not only our great country but the world. We can all agree that Brexit is the most important decision this country has taken since the second world war. My grandparents grew up in Portsmouth. My parents grew up in Portsmouth. I grew up in Portsmouth. The importance of this deal is not just for us here today, but for the generations that will inherit the consequences of our actions. It is a privilege to stand here and represent a constituency that has contributed so greatly to our nation’s success. I cannot jeopardise Portsmouth’s future by voting for a deal that will make my home city poorer.