TOM Tugendhat has called for measures to ensure key industries will still be able to employ people from overseas once Britain leaves the EU and warned some of his more zealous colleagues that Brexit ‘isn’t paradise’.
The Tonbridge MP made the remarks during a House of Commons debate on the economy and jobs last week and said the country must be prepared to accept it may not get the deal it wants by the end of the process.
Describing Britain’s exit from the EU after more than 40 years as ‘an opportunity’ that ‘the people voted for’, he said: “We must be honest with our people that the complexity and uncertainty that we are facing today is likely to continue for a little bit longer.
“We must be absolutely honest when we talk about things like the seasonal agricultural workers scheme as a solution.
“The reality is we need one for the NHS, we need one for tourism, we need a solution for any number of different engineering and educational places so that we make sure that we do not pay for Brexit with a falling economy. I know many people who voted to leave will also agree that openness is necessary.”
“I ask that we look at Brexit as a reality, not as an ideology”
The MP also appealed to his colleagues not to build up expectations which cannot be met or be bound by dogmatic beliefs. Concluding his speech, Mr Tugendhat, who came out in favour of remain in the last few weeks of the campaign – in contrast to his constituency which voted to leave by a margin of over ten percentage points – added: “We cannot guarantee that at the end of 18 months we will get a deal, we cannot guarantee that our negotiating partners will agree to the terms that we’re asking for.
“We must be honest, because if we are not, we cannot expect those who create jobs, who make wealth in our society, who invest, who employ, who grow companies – we cannot expect them to take decisions.
“I ask that we look at Brexit as a reality, not as an ideology. Too often sometimes I felt myself back in a theology lecture hall hearing about the way to Heaven… but Brexit isn’t paradise.”
Mr Tugendhat was followed by the Labour MP for East Ham, Stephen Timsm who said he agreed with the Tonbridge MP that ‘Brexit is not paradise’.
Bob Neill, Conservative representative of Bromley and Chislehurst, also praised Mr Tugendhat’s speech saying he was ‘tempted to say that I will adopt all of it and then sit down.’
Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Business used the debate to criticise Labour’s tax and spending plans, by citing the Institute for Fiscal Studies who said the opposition would increase taxes to their ‘highest ever peacetime level’.
He added: “I am not sure that Labour Members realise what their party has become. And do not let us pretend that those taxes would be paid by some distant multinational rather than by ordinary working people.
“As any economist will tell you, all taxes on companies have to be paid by workers, by consumers and by pensioners, through lower wages, higher prices and less valuable investments meaning lower pensions.
“This is not a choice of prosperity for the many or the few; it is a choice of prosperity for no one.
“During this Parliament, Opposition Members, who hid behind the supposed unelectability of their leader, can hide no longer. Are they going to stay silent while the leadership of their party advocates an approach that they all know perfectly well would be ruinous?”