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 Full text 
Wednesday, 16 January 2019 - Strasbourg Revised edition

The UK’s withdrawal from the EU (debate)

  Josef Weidenholzer (S&D). – Mr President, this is a historic moment. As we know, history always comes as a surprise. When we started our mandate in 2014 nobody could have predicted such a debate today. Not even in 2016, when we discussed the unexpected outcome of the Brexit referendum. It took more than 900 days for the British Parliament to come to a meaningful decision. Months of uncertainty are behind us, and the result is clear, very clear. The future development is still not foreseeable at all.

Only one thing is certain: we are running out of time. Seventy days to go – this great nation is sleepwalking towards the edge of the cliff. Yesterday’s vote should be seen as a wake-up call.

We could start discussing accountability, bad governance or how a small self-centred elite was hijacking the country’s future for short-sighted reasons. It is evident that British Conservativism has dramatically failed.

But this is not the moment for insisting on being right, much less for revenge or retaliation. Now is the moment for responsible action in the interests of the many and not the few. The ordinary people of Britain would be the losers in a hard Brexit. We, the remaining 27 Member States, who stayed united over the negotiations, have to be flexible in breaking the deadlock and to provide pragmatic solutions to minimise the damage.

You can count on the Socialists & Democrats.

And we should not forget that over the last 40 years the UK has made a huge contribution to our common project. We will miss the expertise of our British colleagues, but life goes on and we have to deliver: therefore we need certainty on what the UK wants. We need a clear signal and a people’s vote undoubtedly could deliver this.

The British people should take back control and this time nobody could argue that the people did not know what they were voting for. We do not want to intervene in your domestic politics, but any decision you made to remain would be warmly welcomed.

140 colleagues joined me in an open letter to British citizens this week to make it clear to everyone that we want you to stay and we will welcome you back with open arms.


(The speaker declined to take a blue-card question from Bill Etheridge)

Last updated: 28 May 2019Legal notice