Watch Wera's speech from one of the most significant political debates of our time...
Full text of Wera's speech (check against delivery):
"In June 2016, the country voted by a narrow majority to Leave the European Union.
The Prime Minister is offering us a deal and says we should vote for it because it delivers the will of the narrow majority.
She also threatens us with the prospect of a no deal Brexit, with all the truly damaging consequences for our economy and for people’s livelihoods.
So what is my duty as an MP to resolve this matter in the light of the 2016 referendum?
Do I have to vote for any Brexit that is put in front of me?
The duty of an MP in our representative democracy is to listen to the people and respect their views. AND to use their own informed judgement of what is the best for their constituents and the country as a whole.
To keep this balance is at the heart of the matter in front of us.
Nobody can deny that the referendum happened and the result it produced.
In the last 2 years we have been confronted with many worrying reports of how the Leave campaign manipulated the campaign in an improper way and we should be deeply concerned about the threat to our democracy that this kind of manipulation poses.
However, the result has not been nullified and the government had a duty to find a Brexit that is good for the country.
So I look at the deal in front of us and ask the 2 questions: does this deal result in us leaving the EU. It does. Does it protect the long term interests of our country? It does not.
Why should I vote for it if I truly believe that it is not in the interests of my constituents or the country?
The prime minister has refused to work with parliament to find a consensus. She rushed off and drew up her red lines that made it impossible to find reasonable alternatives and she now tries to bully parliament into forgetting what is good for the country.
She tries to make us think that our only duty is to vote for her deal and deliver a Brexit of any form.
If government had won the argument, and a ‘good Brexit’ was possible, this would be a very different debate. But if no particular deal put to Parliament is a good deal compared to EU membership what should parliament do?
Should we vote for this deal just because it's here?
Should we just vote for it because it's not as bad as crashing out?
No we should not.
Because we would violate a deep principle, a duty that every MP cannot escape from and that is to use our own informed judgement.
I encourage my colleagues from across the House to look in to their hearts, and ask themselves is this deal what is best for the country.
The Prime Minister is using a different argument. She says we have to leave the EU even if it bad for the country because the people voted for it.
She suggests that the dutiful thing for MPs in light of the referendum is to vote for something even if we believe is bad for this country.
That would make a nonsense of our representative democracy.
I have been elected as an MP to employ my own informed judgement when voting. I have never yet seen a proposal for a good Brexit. In every aspect it has become plain to see that leaving the EU is making us economically poorer, less influential and less able to control our own destiny.
Even the government has given up telling us that this deal offers anything better than EU membership.
All the government does is reiterate that it delivers the will of the people. But no MP should be obliged to vote for something they don’t believe is good.
On the contrary, we have a duty to do the opposite.
We have a duty to vote down what we believe is bad for the country.
Does this mean we defy the will of the people? No!
We can legitimately reject any particular Brexit deal in accordance with our own informed judgement but parliament cannot move from there and cancel Brexit.
This is the true meaning of the referendum result in 2016.
This House cannot call off Brexit. Only the people can.
When parliament decides that no Brexit deal is good enough, then parliament is in a logjam. At this point, the decision has to go back to the people.
The people can tell us that a particular Brexit deal is good enough, even when parliament takes a different view.
Or they can tell us that no particular Brexit deal is good and we should call off Brexit.
This is how our democracy works.
It balances our representative democracy with the fact we have had a referendum.
Our representative democracy does NOT demand that MPs surrender their judgement.
This parliament has spent the last two years trying to find a Brexit that is good for the country. If no such Brexit can be found that commands a majority in this house, MPs must agree to go back to the people.
Mr Speaker, in my judgement this deal is not good for our country. It would be a catastrophic mistake and I will vote against it.
And I believe that the best way forward is that this House agrees to give the people the final say."
- Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath