‘Snuffs out hope’: Punjab-origin Labour MP recalls roots to condemn May’s Brexit plan

Senior Labour MP Veerendra Sharma recalled his roots in Punjab in a forceful speech in the House of Commons to condemn the controversial withdrawal agreement, suggesting that it is the moment “we snuffed out hope” of his grandchildren and their generation.

Participating in the ongoing debate before the crunch vote on December 11, Sharma, who represents Ealing Southall – better known as ‘Little India’ – is among a large number of MPs who are opposed to Brexit and will vote against it.

“This country was built on immigration. I myself came here more than 50 years ago, made a family and a life here, served as a local councillor for over 25 years, and have become a Member of Parliament”.

“But the Prime Minister’s plan for Brexit will denude this nation of who it needs most, so I cannot in good faith vote for a deal that leaves my constituents, young and old, without a brighter looking future”.

“Are my grandchildren and all their generation going to look back at this moment and at the Prime Minister’s deal, and remember it as the moment we snuffed out their hope”, he asked in his speech

Sharma is among the Indian-origin MPs who, for different reasons, will vote against the withdrawal agreement. Conservative MP Priti Patel, one of the frontline Brexiters, is opposed to the provisions of the deal secured by Prime Minister Theresa May during tense talks in Brussels.

Sharma said: “I campaigned for our country to remain in the EU. I believe we are stronger when we work with our neighbours, not when we turn our backs on them. The majority of this House said that leaving the EU would be bad for business, strip protections from workers and leave us isolated in the world”.

“We were not heeded. Many of us here counselled that Article 50 should not have been triggered and that rushing to this momentous step was foolhardy. We were not heeded. We stood in this House and the Prime Minister paid lip service to the requests of honourable members to negotiate to protect key sectors of the economy. We were not heeded”.

If May will not agree to another referendum, Sharma said it is the appropriate time for her to stand aside and let others show some real leadership.

First Published: Dec 06, 2018 18:09 IST

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