Sir Mike Penning calls on MPs to compromise and back the withdrawal agreement to honour the referendum result

29th March 2019

Sir Mike Penning calls on MPs to compromise and back the withdrawal agreement to prevent a remainer Parliament overturning the referendum result and debate the detail in the debates on the Bill that would follow.

I have sat through today’s debate, and I will not take any interventions because I want other colleagues also to have the chance to speak.

We need to talk about trust. The British public are fed up with Brexit and are fed up with us. The vast majority of us in this Chamber stood on a manifesto to honour the referendum result. I respect those who did not stand on such a manifesto, but the majority of us did. This House, whether or not we like to admit it, is a remain House. The Labour party would like to bring down the Government, and it clearly sees this as an opportunity to do so. I understand that that is the Opposition’s job, and we were in opposition long enough, but it is fundamentally wrong for a party to stand on a manifesto saying it will honour the referendum result and then do everything it can in this House to delay, change or make it a soft Brexit, or whatever other language we might use.

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

I have already said that I will not give way.

We can rebuild trust among the British public, but we can only do so if we compromise—not, as the Scottish National party suggests, by not leaving, and not by saying we want to be in the European Union—[Hon. Members: “Hear! Hear!”] Yet again, I am so popular.

I am pleased that the Prime Minister is here, because this is fundamental. Those running leadership campaigns to replace her should, for God’s sake, put it on the back burner until we get this through. We are not voting today on the Bill. We are voting to get on to the Bill so we can consider the amendments that so many colleagues wish to make, including my friends from Northern Ireland.

Colleagues stood for election on a piece of paper that said, “I will honour the referendum.” They have to go back to their constituencies and say, “I have honoured the referendum result, as I promised you.” I will have to go back and say I have compromised, because I do not like the agreement. Most of us do not like the agreement, but it is a damn sight better than sticking two fingers up to the British public and saying, “We are going to ignore you.”

That is basically what is happening. Our constituents voted to leave, and not with caveats or with bits and bobs attached, and leave is what we should do, but I am petrified that this House is going to block the will of the British people, which is why I will support the motion today.


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