This week I spoke in Parliament on why I voted to show my confidence in the Government and the Prime Minister.
You can read my speech – and just some of the reasons why I’m proud of the Government’s record – below:
In moving this motion of no confidence earlier today, the Leader of the Opposition claimed that it was about delivering Brexit—but this Parliament, elected in 2017, was elected to perform that task. Both main parties, Labour and Conservative alike, stood on a manifesto of respecting the referendum result, and between the two of us we got 82% of the vote. It is our responsibility now, together, each and every one of us, to find a way of making Brexit work for our country. Claiming that the only way to do that is by holding yet another general election is an abdication of the individual responsibility that each and every one of us took upon our shoulders by standing as candidates in the 2017 general election.
But the particular mendacity of the Leader of the Opposition in moving this motion and claiming that he would be given a mandate if he won a general election is that he has absolutely no policy on Brexit at all. Given that he has no policy, he could not possibly have any mandate to do anything, were he to win a general election in the first place. He goes about the north of the country saying that he is in favour of Brexit. He gives remain-leaning constituencies in London and the south the impression that he is in favour of remaining. In a general election campaign, he would collapse under the weight of his own contradictions. He was asked time and again, last night and over the weekend, and by the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) earlier, to articulate his policy on Brexit, and he could not do so. He could not do so because he has no policy. It is up to all of us to pull together and work out a way of delivering Brexit sensibly.
I would say to the Government, though, that they should listen after the vote last night. Clearly the margin of defeat was not a small one. If one thing needs to be changed in order to give this proposal a chance of passing, it is obviously the backstop. My advice to the Government is that we need to speak to the European Union about introducing legally binding changes to the backstop in order to render the withdrawal agreement acceptable to this House. I ask the Government to speak to the European Union on that topic in the coming days.
We have also heard a great deal from Labour Members about the Government’s record more generally—particularly from the hon. Members for Ilford North (Wes Streeting) and for North West Durham (Laura Pidcock). I am proud to defend this Government’s record over the last nine years. I heard education mentioned. It was of course my right hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove), who I see in his place, who, as Education Secretary, introduced reforms that mean that now more children than ever before are attending good and outstanding schools. That is not my judgment or the Government’s judgment—it is the judgment of Ofsted. It is the quality of the education that our children receive that really matters.