Nigel Evans, MP for the Ribble Valley, yesterday addressed the House during the second reading of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill.
Nigel noted the historic nature and effort that went into making the referendum successful, commenting specifically on the majority of people in the Ribble Valley and the North West who had voted to leave.
Beginning his speech Mr Evans said:
“This is an historic day. I participated in the campaign and fought hard for us to leave the European Union. I was too young to vote in the first referendum in 1975…. …. so this, 43 years later, was the first referendum on Europe in which I had an opportunity to vote.
“….the British people decided that, in their considered opinion, they wanted to vote to leave the European Union. About 57% of my constituents voted to leave—all the Lancashire constituencies, in fact, voted to leave the European Union. In the north-west of England, on a 70% turnout—not a thin turnout— 54% decided to vote to leave…. Therefore, if we believe in democracy, the onus is on us to accept the verdict of the British people.”
His contribution also highlighted the importance of a swift resolution to the questions surrounding the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and vice versa:
“I fully recognise the trauma felt by many European Union citizens who live and work in this country, thinking they could be asked to leave. The idea that we will round up EU nationals and put them on the next Ryanair or EasyJet flight back to whichever country they came from is bonkers.
“It is cruel and inhumane for the Commission to say that it will not clarify its position until we trigger Article 50 and the negotiations begin, as if human beings should be pawns in the negotiation. If that position is kept up, I ask the Government to ensure that this matter is the first thing negotiated in the process.”
Concluding, Nigel focused on the future:
“I believe in democracy and I actually love Europe. I love my European neighbours and I visit on a regular basis. I am a member of the Council of Europe.
“But the British people have voted to leave the European Union. It is a simple choice. Those who are going to deny the verdict of the British people appear to love the EU more than they love democracy, and that is a dangerous thing.”
The vote in the House on moving the Bill forward to committee will take place today, 1 February.