On Tuesday 11 December, Parliament will vote on Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal.
After careful consideration I have decided to vote against this Bill. This has not been a simple decision.
Throughout this week, various aspects of the Prime Minister’s proposal have been debated in Parliament. In an unprecedented step, the House of Commons found Ministers to be in contempt of Parliament for failing to publish the Attorney General’s final and full legal advice on the withdrawal agreement. Now that the advice has been published, it is clear that attempts to repress this information had nothing to do with protecting our national interests – as was repeatedly claimed. Instead, it was to hide just how poor a deal this is. This attempt to manipulate parliament is entirely in keeping with the Prime Minister’s approach throughout these proceedings; controlling, secretive and with total disregard for other opinions.
Bolton South East voted to leave and I respect that. However, the deal put before parliament is nothing short of shambolic. No one voted for a deal that provides so little for so high a price. The Government’s own economic analysis shows this deal will make the country poorer – with GDP falling by around 3.9% and every region of the UK being worse off.
Prior to the Government’s proposal, the Labour Party made it clear that we supported its desire to respect the will of the people when they voted to leave the EU. As always, my primary aim is to represent my constituents, ensuring that their interests and needs are fought for in parliament. Labour’s six tests were set out to ensure that our position was clear; we want a deal that is fair on our citizens while still ensuring a strong and collaborative future relationship with the EU. On each and every count, Theresa May’s proposal is an abject failure.
One key issue I have with this deal, is that it rules out a permanent customs union with a British say. This is essential if we want to support jobs, businesses and the manufacturing supply chains which we all depend on. Workers rights are also central to what the Labour Party stands for. This deal would weaken them, without putting forward provisions for either consumer protections or environmental standards. It also endangers our safety, giving no clarity on whether the UK will remain part of common EU arrangements such as the European Arrest Warrant. Finally, this deal offers little more than another attempt to kick the Irish border issue into the long grass. By lacking any credible solution which would prevent a hard border in Northern Ireland, this deal makes it highly likely that the backstop would be implemented.
As I have repeatedly stated, and reiterated on the ITV Granada debate on Thursday night, what we need now is a general election. Theresa May’s weak mandate is broken. She is leading a party that does not support her, offering a deal which no one wants. The Labour Party will continue to argue clearly and honestly for another election to allow the people to have their own say: not just on this deal but on this government. If that doesn’t happen, all options remain on the table. Throughout the upcoming negotiations, I will continue to assess carefully and independently to ensure that Bolton South East ends up with the best possible outcome.