Update April 2019
The government continue to mishandle everything around Brexit. But Labour are working hard to ensure working people do not suffer the consequences of government incompetence.
Labour is arguing for a new comprehensive UK-EU customs union to ensure that there are no tariffs with Europe, to support our manufacturing industry and to help avoid any need for a hard border in Northern Ireland. This arrangement would ensure the UK would have an appropriate say on any new trade deal terms.
We have to make sure that we protect jobs, standards on rights and protections and continue to cooperate closely with the EU on a wide range of issues including climate breakdown, research, technology and security.
The Prime Minister must start putting the needs of the country before her party and negotiate a future relationship with the EU that puts jobs and the economy first – not trying simply satisfy the right wing of her own party. Businesses need certainty and stability from the government, not more confusion and chaos. Theresa May should have resigned long ago, she leads a government too divided to negotiate with itself, let alone the EU.
I am a democratic socialist and an internationalist. So I want a close future relationship with the EU based on Labour’s values of internationalism, solidarity and equality. I am in favour of a final say vote by the British public to confirm or reject the deal that finally passes through Parliament.
Update 22nd March 2019
As I’m sure you can imagine I have had a huge amount of correspondence about Brexit and apologise for any delayed response. I have been following events closely and mean to fully respond to constituents.
It is clear that we are at a crisis point. Despite clear instructions from Parliament to ask for an extension to Article 50, the government have refused to enact this in legislation. So as it currently stands in law we are still due to leave the EU on the 29th March, at this point without any deal at all.
I know many of my constituents will be marching in London this weekend to stop that disaster from happening. I join everyone there in demanding a final say and another vote if the only choices before us are a terrible deal or no deal at all, and insisting that instead we have the option to Remain.
The Prime Minister has been in Brussels speaking to EU leaders to request a technical extension to Article 50. As she made clear in her recent statement she is unwilling to consider any extension beyond the 30th June. The European Council President, Donald Tusk, announced that EU leaders have agreed to a short extension, provided that the Prime Minister’s deal is signed off by Parliament next week.
As it stands, this short technical extension to Article 50 is unlikely to resolve this matter unless the Prime Minister accepts that her deal stands virtually no chance of gaining a majority in the House of Commons and unless she makes a significant shift in her strategy.
Since Article 50 was triggered two years ago I have consistently said that the Prime Minister should have tried to bring our fractured country together by negotiating for us to remain in a customs union, have a close relationship with the single market and dynamic alignment with the EU on rules and regulations, so if we had to leave Europe, we would not go far.
A withdrawal agreement negotiated with the EU along these lines would have guaranteed a soft border in Northern Ireland without the need for a controversial backstop and protected jobs, workers’ rights and environmental protections.
Unfortunately, Conservative MPs chose to elect a former Home Secretary as their leader who had blinkered views on immigration and the European Court of Justice that left her with a very limited vision of the best way forward for our country. She approached her negotiations with the EU with such rigid red lines that she was realistically never going to secure a deal that would protect jobs and the economy in our country.
Even worse, instead of listening to sensible suggestions from across Parliament she allowed herself to be held ransom to the right wingers in the DUP and the so-called ERG. By seeking to please her own MPs and keep her government together she failed to take the opportunity to negotiate a deal which could have achieved support from across the House. Instead, the deal that she negotiated with the EU would be impossible for the UK to implement without disastrous consequences for our country and that is why the Labour Party will continue to vote against it.
It was very disappointing that the Prime Minister’s recent statement was so divisive, blaming MPs and Parliament for both her own failure to negotiate an acceptable deal and the time that she has wasted in her stubborn efforts to get it through the House.
As we edge closer and closer to the 29th March it becomes even more frustrating to think about the decision that she made to delay the first meaningful vote on her deal until after Christmas. She has nobody to blame but herself for these reckless choices and she has now made it even more unlikely that her deal could get voted through by Parliament.
One way that we could move forward at this point would be by giving Parliament the opportunity to have free indicative votes on a range of different options to try and build a consensus.
The Labour MP Hilary Benn put this scenario to a vote in Parliament last week, but the government whipped their MPs to vote against it. We lost the vote by 2 votes, and this was only because the First Minister of State David Lidington told MPs that that government would allow indicative votes on a range of options if Brexit was delayed for a longer period.
The government must now give Parliament the opportunity to have a positive input into this process. I believe that it would be possible to achieve consensus in Parliament by working with other parties, around Labour’s proposals, including staying in a customs union. Compared to the government’s disastrous defeat of 230 votes, Labour’s amendment to the first meaningful vote making those proposals was also lost, but by only 83 votes.
It is also important to remember the votes that took place back in July on the Trade Bill. During these votes, an amendment which would have forced Britain to join a customs union with the EU if no agreement were reached on frictionless trade by 21 January 2019 was voted down by just 6 votes.
That is even more striking when you remember that it was for this same vote that the Liberal Democrat MPs Tim Farron and Vince Cable failed to turn up at all!
So, in summary, Labour will continue to press in these urgent days and weeks for Theresa May to stop trying to flog her disastrous and rejected deal, to stop threatening the country with the chaos of No Deal, and instead engage in proper discussions – both with Parliament and with Brussels – on an alternative plan to protect jobs and the economy.
And in line with the policy that was agreed at our party conference, Labour will also continue to demand a public vote to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit or no deal scenario being imposed on our country. Indeed, even if our alternative proposals could command a narrow consensus in Parliament, I think it would be only right to ask the public on both sides of this debate whether they agree.
And as I have repeatedly said, it would only be right for any public vote to include the option for us to remain in the EU, and I can assure you that I would campaign for us to do so.
I hope that this has clarified my thoughts on this matter. If you are an EU citizen and concerned about what Brexit will mean for you, please do not hesitate to get in touch with my office and we will do what we can to help.
Update 12th March 2019
On Tuesday 12th March the government will again put before the House of Commons their deal with the European Union. This deal is the same deal that suffered the worst Commons defeat for a government in British history. I will again vote against this deal because it will not protect jobs, workplace rights or environmental standards, it will not ensure frictionless trade for UK businesses and it provides no solution to the issue of the Irish border.
If the deal is defeated, the government has committed to putting before Parliament on Wednesday 13th March a choice on whether to remove the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without any future relationship established. I will vote to remove the possibility of such a “no deal” scenario.
The government has also committed to putting before Parliament a decision on whether to postpone the date that the UK will leave the EU, if MPs vote to remove the possibility of a “no deal” scenario. I will vote to postpone the date set for the UK to leave the EU.
Labour policy was set by members at the party conference in September. It kept all options on the table to try to find a way forward that protects jobs, workers’ rights and environmental standards, while ensuring access for UK businesses and goods to the European market.
The government has made such an appalling mess of the negotiations to leave the EU that there is no way forward that will achieve a majority in Parliament. That is why I have decided to support giving the British public a final say on what we should do, to remove any doubt as to what the people want.
Edmonton holds a very wide range of views on what the next steps should be, and my office has been inundated with emails and letters expressing those differing views. I can assure you that I am following developments on this matter of most important national interest extremely closely.
Update 14th February 2019
Tonight I voted on amendments put before the House of Commons:
- For amendment A: requiring by 27 February 2019 a Minister of the Crown either (a) to move another motion under Section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 or (b) to make a written statement declaring that there is no longer an agreement in principle in the negotiations with the European Union and to move no later than that date an amendable motion on how the Government proposes to proceed.
- Against amendment E: saying “that this House welcomes the Prime Minister’s statement of 12 February 2019; reiterates support for the approach to leaving the EU expressed by this House on 29 January 2019 and notes that discussions between the UK and the EU on the Northern Ireland backstop are ongoing.”
Update 29th January 2019
Below is a list of my voting record on amendments put before the House of Commons on Tuesday 29th January.
- For amendment A: for Parliament to vote on options which prevent the UK leaving the EU without a deal, including a permanent customs union and a referendum.
- For amendment G: to force the government to make time for six days of debate on Brexit alternatives before 26 March.
- For amendment B: to give Parliament time to pass a bill that would postpone Brexit until 31 December if the prime minister’s deal is not approved by 26 February.
- For amendment J: for the government to ask the EU to postpone Brexit for an indefinite period.
- For amendment I: to reject leaving the EU without a deal.
- Against amendment N: to call for Parliament to require the backstop is replaced with “alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border” with Ireland.
Below is my statement on Brexit from January 2019
You will be aware that the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal was voted down by MPs on the 15th January. I voted against this deal because it will not protect jobs, workplace rights or environmental standards, it will not ensure frictionless trade for UK businesses and it provides no solution to the issue of the Irish border. It was the largest Parliamentary defeat for a sitting government in British history. The scale of the defeat should mean that Theresa May’s bad deal does not come back for another vote in Parliament.
Having failed so comprehensively the Prime Minister should have resigned.
On the 16th January the Government narrowly survived a vote of no confidence. I voted against the Government because of the extreme incompetence of their negotiations with the EU, the miserable failure of Theresa May’s deal, the Government’s exacerbation of the divisions in our country and their appalling record over the last nine years.
Labour policy was set by members at the party conference in September. It keeps all options on the table to try to find a way forward that protects jobs, workers’ rights and environmental standards, while ensuring access for UK businesses and goods to the European market. Since September the Labour Party have repeatedly offered to work with the Government to find a deal that will get through Parliament. Every offer was rejected. Labour is still committed to finding a solution that is the best for the British people.
Edmonton holds a very wide range of views on what the next steps should be, and my office has been inundated with emails and letters expressing those differing views. I very much appreciate people writing to me and sharing their views and I will keep them in mind. I am following developments on this matter of most important national interest extremely closely.