With crucial votes due before Parliament this week, I wanted to update constituents on where we are and where I stand on Brexit.
In 2017 you put your trust in me and elected me on a manifesto which included opposing a damaging Tory Brexit. This deal is exactly that and that is why I cannot support it. First, it rules out any possibility of the UK negotiating a new customs union with the EU after we leave. That would represent a huge blow to British manufacturing and the communities that are so dependent on those industries.
Second, Boris Johnson’s deal rejects the UK having a close relationship with the Single Market. It strips out the safety net on workplace rights, consumer protections and environmental standards. Even by the Government’s own estimates, the basic free trade agreement envisaged by the deal would make every region and nation in the UK poorer.
Third, the proposals being debated today do nothing to address the serious concerns Labour has raised about security cooperation or participation in EU agencies and programmes after Brexit. It is a simple copy and paste job on the previous Prime Minister’s flawed deal.
It is a licence to slash the workers’ rights, environmental standards and consumer and security protections we currently enjoy. That is why I will oppose it when it comes to Parliament. I have voted for various Brexit options that would allow us to maintain a close relationship with the single market and membership of the customs union, but I could not support a bad deal like this which would damage the country.
I believe it’s a bad deal, but I now also believe that the public, not politicians, must have the final say on this and any other form of Brexit. The Prime Minister, a leading campaigner for Leave, has negotiated a Brexit deal and I believe he should put it to the public for a confirmatory vote between his deal and remaining in the EU, as those are the only obvious choices now facing the country. People, not politicians, must make the crucial final decision on our relationship with Europe.
Finally, if this deal is passed then there is a very real risk that we would crash out on no deal terms at the end of December 2020. That is not only my assessment, it is the view shared by the Tory MP John Baron who revealed to the BBC yesterday that Johnson’s deal “means we could leave on no-deal terms next year.”
Boris Johnson’s plan is the blueprint for a disastrous cliff-edge Brexit in little over a year’s time – and that is why it has the support of so many Tory MPs.
The Government’s own planning assumption for no-deal warns that medicines and medical products are “particularly vulnerable” to disruption at Channel Ports because some vital medicines have a short shelf-life, making stockpiling difficult. It would, overnight, end our trading relationship with Europe and drag us out of the security arrangements.
I will also do everything in my power to ensure the Government doesn’t force through a no-deal Brexit which would be hugely damaging for this country and, I believe, no responsible government should ever consider taking such a staggering risk.