Grieve: 'People were misled on Brexit by propaganda and mad fantasies'

Dominic Grieve in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV.

Dominic Grieve in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV.

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Dominic Grieve has damned the "mad fantasies" of Brexiteers and told the House of Commons it is not too late to put Brexit back to the people.

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The Tory Remainer MP stood up in parliament to tell MPs that they are making it harder to deliver a better quality of life for their constituents by allowing Brexit to happen.

He said: “We are impoverishing ourselves; we are making it harder to deliver a good quality of life for our citizens, and we are doing it with a relentless enthusiasm which at last we have found some common sense to check. I have very little doubt that when this matter comes back we will extend article 50, and I hope very much that the government will finally adopt a policy of indicating that no deal is completely unacceptable.”

He used his speech to hit out at Brexiteers in the House of Commons that believe a good deal is still possible from the EU if no-deal remains on the table.

“I will just say this — and I will repeat it, I suspect, ad nauseam until this whole sorry saga is over: I only have to look at the emails I get on Brexit from people who want to leave to see that the principle theme is the demand to leave in the form of catastrophic no-deal Brexit.

“The reason that I am getting those emails is that people have, in my opinion, been thoroughly misled over a long period by a form of propaganda that believes that the EU is evil.

“This was rather highlighted by the extraordinary speech of my hon friend the member for South Dorset [Richard Drax], who put forward the stab-in-the-back theory. I am sorry, but these are mad fantasies. They are absolute fantasies about the EU and its relationship with us. So people are writing in and saying that is what we should be doing, but I have to say that we are not going to be doing it.”

Grieve explained that the claim we must leave the EU at all costs because it is the “will of the people” was “running out of steam”.

“The fact is that we are likely to be offering an extraordinary halfway house palliative that a large number of Members of the House absolutely know will be less good than remaining in the EU. Maybe that is a burden ​that we are going to have to carry because of the 2016 referendum result, but speaking personally I find it deeply unacceptable that I should park every aspect of my own opinion and evaluation of these options simply in order to go along with an instruction that is now nearly three years old and seems to be running out of steam in virtually every single one of its characteristics.”

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He added that the House of Commons still has time to consult the public with a People’s Vote.

“That is why I urge my right hon. friends on the Treasury bench not to ignore the possibility of consulting the public. If the public want the prime minister’s deal, which is the only deal we are ever likely to get, then so be it; but if not, they should have the option to express the view that they want to stay. Ultimately, my own opinion is that that would be very much better than anything else we have done.”

Finally, responding to claims from Sir William Cash that the UK had a “dysfunctional relationship” with the EU and that was a good reason to Leave, Grieve sparked laughter in the Commons as he told him: “He talks about dysfunctional relationships, and some people looking at the two of us would say that our relationship has been dysfunctional for a long time, but we have stayed in the same party, and that is a good reason for our staying in the EU as well.”

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