How super Lib Dem MPs contributed to Super Saturday

Here are the Lib Dem contributions from our MPs in yesterday’s “Super Saturday” debates.

First up was Jo, basically telling the Prime Minister that he was too feart to put his deal to the people:

The Prime Minister’s deal removes protections on workers’ rights. It puts a border down the Irish sea and, according to the Government’s own analysis, will damage our economy on a scale greater than the financial crash. Today, hundreds of thousands of people will be outside demanding a final say in a people’s vote. Is not it the truth that the reason why the Prime Minister refuses their calls is that he knows that, if given the option, the people will reject his bad deal and choose to remain in the European Union?

Which he didn’t answer, of course.

Then Luciana tackled him on the fact that the Government hadn’t even provided back of a cigarette packet figures for how the deal would impact on the economy:

The Prime Minister’s Brexit Secretary was on television this morning. He confirmed that no economic analysis of the deal has been done. I ask the House to let that sink in: no economic analysis of the deal, on which we are all expected to vote today, has been done. How does the Prime Minister anticipate that Members on all sides the House can, in good faith, be expected to vote on a deal today that will impact on our country for decades to come?

Answer came there none. And the same when Sarah Wollaston had a go later:

Evidence matters, Prime Minister. How can he possibly assure our constituents that this is a good deal if he has not carried out an economic impact assessment of what it will cost them? If he has carried that out, why on earth are we not able to see it as we debate this today?

Tom Brake challenged him to rule out leaving at the end of the transition period without a deal:

Would the Prime Minister agree to pass an Act making it unlawful for us to leave at the end of the transition phase without a deal?

And he refused to do so. Quelle surprise. But look at what he said, while thanking ministers and civil servants for procuring the deal:

I respectfully say to the right hon. Gentleman that I do not think their position has been made easier by measures passed in the name of the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn). Not a good idea!

A bit of a contradiction since he’s been hailing this brilliant deal he brought back with the Benn Act in place.

Vince had a go later on:

Following the earlier question from the right hon. Member for South West Hertfordshire (Mr Gauke), the Prime Minister will know that there is a great deal of anxiety in the business community that it faces a cliff edge at the end of next year. Will he reiterate what seemed to be his assurance that the transition will be extended until his free trade agreement has been concluded?

The Prime Minister’s responded:

I, frankly, am not as worried as he is, because I think we will do a great free trade deal by then.

So that’s all right then.

Then it came on to speeches in the debate itself. We got one and it went to Tom Brake who talked about how each household would be worse off to the tune of two grand and why that merited a people’s vote :

We have reached the fork in the road. We must now choose. Do we choose the route that leads us to an outward-looking, confident nation, punching above its weight in a European Union battling for liberal values in a world that is increasingly illiberal, isolationist and belligerent? That course guarantees that EU citizens, many of whom have lived here since the 1960s and ’70s, will not have to worry about proving they are entitled to healthcare and provides for their UK counterparts in the EU, who will not need to fret over what action to take should the time-limited six months of healthcare guaranteed by our Government expire. Or do we let ourselves be led by a colourful pied piper who chose his path and this deal not out of any conviction that his path was just, rational or economically beneficial for our nation, but because he believed it was the most secure way to achieve his own ambition.

Do we meekly follow a man whose “excellent” deal, according to such Government analysis as they have been willing to make available, will leave each household at least £2,000 worse off and hit British jobs and living standards with the ferocity of the austerity triggered by the 2008 crash? This deal, as the Prime Minister confirmed in his rather rambling and dissembling contribution, may not survive the transition period and could still lead to a no-deal crash-out.

Do we follow in the footsteps of a man who, just a month ago, claimed to a rapturous DUP gathering that the “precious Union” was “in good shape”, but a month later dealt the Union a hammer blow that could shatter it within just a couple of years? Are we so afraid of our own shadow and so lacking in confidence in our capacity to work the EU system to our advantage, as we have successfully done for decades, that we have to fall back on a nostalgic vision of empire and a buccaneering Britain.

That is the choice in front of us today. I hope that we choose the former path. It would require one further step—a people’s vote—to give the people the final say. That would be the democratic way—a way supported by the hundreds of thousands of people over there in Parliament Square as we speak. That is the only way to stop the Brexit rot in its tracks and put this issue to bed. I urge all Members to follow that path, vote for the amendment and reject this calamitous deal.

But others made interventions. Here’s Luciana on economic analysis again:

I thank the Secretary of State for very kindly giving way. He has used the word “scrutiny” on a number of occasions in his contribution so far, yet he was on BBC News this morning confirming that no economic analysis has been done on the deal presented to the House today. [Interruption.] Government Members may shake their heads, but how can this House be expected to vote on something so fundamental to the future of our country without that analysis?

And Norman Lamb referred to how agonising the choice had been for him and highlighted how bad this was for the balance between the communities in Northern Ireland:

I have really agonised this week over whether to support this deal, and it has been profoundly difficult. Does the shadow Secretary of State share my concern with regard to Northern Ireland that by disturbing the careful balance within the Good Friday agreement between the two communities, we run the risk of inflaming Unionist opinion in potentially a very dangerous way, just, in a sense, as the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) made clear in his intervention?

Sam Gyimah asked Peter Kyle highlighted how the differences of opinion even among Brexiteers meant that we needed a People’s Vote.

I have been listening to the hon. Gentleman with interest. Does he agree that though the referendum settled the question of leaving, it did not settle where we were going? That is why the House has, over the last three and a half years, debated different ways of leaving the EU. Some people believe in the May deal; some want a May deal minus backstop; some want a Northern Ireland backstop; some want a customs union; some want no deal; and some want a managed no deal. Does he agree that that is why any deal that the Government put before us should be put to the people for a final say?

Finally, for the second time, Jo was greeted with jeers when she got up to speak to raise a Point of Order at the end. And twice the Speaker intervened on her behalf to say she must be heard.

It’s very reminiscent of the way Charles Kennedy was treated during the Iraq War. And he was right, too.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister’s deal was a bad deal, and the public deserve to have the final say—not just the hundreds of thousands who are marching outside, but the millions of people across our country. [Interruption.]

And the people who are outside this building right now will be heard, and they deserve the final say, along with millions across the country. The most urgent thing right now is that the Prime Minister complies with the law, and I ask your guidance. Would it be possible to suspend the sitting for a short time to allow the Prime Minister to go and send his letter, and come back and make a statement to the House to confirm that he has done so?

We know how that one ended up…

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4 Comments

  • Nigel Jones 20th Oct '19 - 8:45pm

    I like all these Lib-Dem contributions to the debate. I especially liked Jo’s invitation to suspend parliament for Boris to go out and write that letter and so did the speaker like it too, even though he could not actually suspend the sitting.
    However, I must repeat what I have said elsewhere that whatever happens in Parliament, what is our strategy for communicating in understandable words to the general public ?

  • Peter Martin 21st Oct '19 - 8:02am

    “Super Saturday” ????

    Come on. Not for anything that happened in Parliament it wasn’t. Parliament doesn’t want to make a decision even though the majority of MPs kicked up a big fuss about a longer than normal prorogation of their sitting due the Party conferences and Queen’s speech preparation.

    MPs and Reamainers did have a valid case. But what was the point of all that expensive court time, expensive QC fees etc if they aren’t going to do anything with the extra Parliamentary time that the Supreme Court has granted them?

  • Peter, they are hoping now to have the time to scrutinise Boris’ deal instead of being rushed into accepting it first. It beggars belief that anyone expected Parliament to give acceptance to the deal without first scrutinising it. Those Conservatives who even afterwards claimed there would be a chance to scrutinise the detail are wrong and those Labour MPs who voted against the amendment are equally wrong. I was pleased that Sir Keir Stearmer attempted to start that scrutiny during Saturday’s debate.

  • David Garlick 21st Oct '19 - 3:44pm

    I suspect that the Vote was not asked for yesterday as they were confident that they did not have the numbers to pass it. Today they can ask for the vote to be re run which they expect the Speaker to reject. They then blame him for the delay…

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