Today is a historic moment for our country. After 85 days of hard graft, the Prime Minister has brought home a new Brexit deal – and I believe MPs should vote for it.
Despite being told it was impossible, we have successfully re-opened the old Withdrawal Agreement and removed the Irish border backstop. In its place is a new agreement that maintains the open border all sides wanted while ensuring the United Kingdom takes back control of its money, borders, trade and laws.
As MPs gather today – the first time the Commons has sat on a Saturday since the Falklands – they should know the world is watching. I have just flown back from the IMF annual meeting in Washington DC and the deal was welcomed in every meeting I had with my counterparts from around the world – including all the G7 and G20 nations.
The UK is – and will always be – an open economy, meaning we are not immune to global turbulence that is hitting many countries. I talked about this a lot with my colleagues from America, Japan, China, India and others – we need global solutions to global challenges.
But it is also true the continued indecision surrounding Brexit is further undermining certainty in the UK and holding us back. We must get it done and put that confidence – and the investment that has been held up during the delays over the past year – into delivering growth and opportunity.
We want to leave the EU with a good deal that lays a path to a world-class free trade agreement between the UK and the EU. The Prime Minister has come home with that deal and in this time of uncertainty it’s clearly what’s best for both our democracy and our economy.
It is not true, as some critics claim, that this is just a repackaged version of the old deal MPs have rejected three times. We have secured real changes, delivered via hard work and tough negotiating. I always believed we could achieve a new deal, and the Treasury has played a central role in designing the solutions to make it happen.
As well as that, my first act as Chancellor in July was to dramatically step up our preparations for No Deal. Committing an extra £2.1 billion to preparing for No Deal was controversial – but it was the right thing to do both for finally making sure the UK was ready for anything but also proving to the EU we really are ready to quit without a deal without any further pointless delay.
Those preparations have paid real dividends – reinforcing our ports with extra Border Force officers, streamlining our customs procedures and guaranteeing supply of vital medicines amongst others – and mean if MPs do vote No to this new deal today, we can and must still leave on time on October 31.
But that is not what I want and it is not what is right for our country when a better solution is in front of us. Brexit has stirred up anger and division – the best way to deal with that and start to heal the wounds is to deliver on the 2016 mandate.
Labour’s leaders plan to vote against the new deal today – and even worse want to try again to force a second referendum on this country. Far from healing the wounds of the past three years, Jeremy Corbyn’s strategy would instead pour salt into them, guaranteeing months more acrimony and uncertainty.
I appeal to all colleagues who believe in democracy to join me in the Aye lobby today. If the Commons passes the Brexit deal today, it will bring to a close this argument.
We can finally focus properly on domestic priorities – crime, the health service and our schools.
And we can get to work on the new relationship we want with Europe – a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement between the UK and the EU that builds on the existing economic ties to the benefit of people on both sides of the English Channel and the Irish Sea.