"It is an enormous honour to follow a speech as brave as the one by the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock). I have mentally ripped up what I was going to say and will, I hope, say something in response. I have enormous respect for him and always have done.
Members on both sides of the House, as a whole, work extremely hard to represent their constituencies as they see fit. Since I got here, I have been very impressed by the hard work and dedication of Labour Members. I have enjoyed the cross-party working in which I have been involved, particularly in the justice sphere, where the Select Committee on Justice has made real change to people’s lives, and on early pregnancy loss and baby loss. We have worked across parties to make a real difference, and I hope my remarks will be taken in that context.
I am not going to speak up for the deal, and I am not going to speak up for the Prime Minister, though I do strongly support both; unusually for me, I will talk about personalities, as the hon. Gentleman did.
The Leader of the Opposition has been an anti-war and anti-nuclear campaigner all his life, as far as I know. He would prefer to live in a republic. He supports Hamas, the IRA and various other unfashionable organisations around the world. He has voted against his Whip more often than any other Labour Member. He has been monitored by MI5 for 30 years and by special branch for 20 years because they are worried that he will undermine parliamentary democracy. He describes Karl Marx as “a great economist.” The Prime Minister, who is never one to attack someone personally, mentioned his remarks following the Skripal attack.
What we need to focus on is the Leader of the Opposition’s position on Europe. He opposed joining the European Community in 1975. He opposed Maastricht and Lisbon. He wants to be free of EU rules on state aid and industry.
The right hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell), who supports the Leader of the Opposition in this place, is the chap who threw the little red book on the Table during my first Budget as an MP. He is the gentleman who thinks my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Ms McVey) should be lynched, and he wanted to assassinate Mrs Thatcher. He says that he would back a second referendum only if the option to remain were not present.
This is not acceptable. We need clarity from the Opposition at this important point for the nation. We need to know what their policy is. I was a civil servant and I find it very easy to work across parties, but, like the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness, not with a party with this leadership. I joined the civil service in 1997, and one of the reasons I became a Conservative MP is that I saw that the quality of decision making improved in 2010 under the coalition Government, but that does not mean there is not good on the Opposition Benches, and we need to harness it. However, in agreement with the hon. Gentleman, I do not think anybody can have confidence in the current Labour leadership.
For those reasons alone, and for all the many good reasons mentioned by my hon. and right hon. Friends, I have complete confidence in this Government."