EU Withdrawal Bill Vote

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14 Jan 2019
During the 2017 general election when I was campaigning in Rother Valley, I made clear to my constituents that I had voted for Article 50, which set out the timetable that we are now following for our exit from the EU.

I also made it clear that while I would hold the government to account on its Brexit policies, I would also not disrespect my constituents by needlessly trying to block Brexit. Those were also the words of the Labour Party manifesto that all Labour MPs stood on, which clearly stated that we respected the referendum decision and we would support the process of leaving the EU.

Once a parliament has handed over the choice in the form of a referendum we must respect the decision that is made. It truly saddens me that so many in the Commons are trying to overturn the decision.

We cannot allow this and I believe it would have dire political consequences for the Labour Party if it were to happen. A second referendum would be a betrayal of many of our voters and I am almost certain we would never agree what the question should be anyway.

We couldn’t even agree the rules for a TV debate on this issue so I think the chances of agreeing anything of that magnitude are incredibly low.

The deal in front of the Commons is clearly not a perfect one, but there was never going to be a perfect deal that would solve all of the problems and worries that people from across the political spectrum have.

My reservations about the deal are far outweighed by the huge risk of a no-deal Brexit, which would cause devastation for many in this country. It will also certainly hit people in the north and manufacturing hubs harder as these kind of economic impacts usually do.

We must also listen to what experts have to say, which I understand is a novel idea in recent times. Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney has warned the Treasury committee that in the most “extreme” case, food prices could rise by 10 per cent.

We have spent far too long negotiating the rules of the transition period and instead we must get on with negotiating a trade deal with the EU that works for people across the UK. This cannot be done by sacrificing workers’ rights or environmental standards.

It is a shame that the government waited until last week to engage with Labour MPs on this issue, however I believe we can achieve a position that would protect these essential standards. I will continue to engage with the government to enshrine these protections within the bill.

We must also be honest that any future deal does not support the continuation of freedom of movement with the EU and that is rightly recognised in the political declaration.

I cannot support any arrangement that allows that to continue as I believe this issue was a major factor in the way that many people voted, especially in my constituency.

I know it will disappoint many within my party but I will be voting in support of the prime minister’s deal on Tuesday as that is the only option on the table that truly enacts the promises that I made to my constituents and avoids the horror of a no-deal Brexit.

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