My article for this week’s Ham & High, published on 9 August 2018
“Parliament broke for the summer with the Government hanging on a thread, the Vote Leave campaign (led by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove) fined for electoral fraud and the Brexit Secretary confirming plans to stockpile food, medicines and blood in preparation for crashing out of the EU with no deal.
It’s an utter mess. The day after the referendum, I had people coming up to me in tears worried about what it meant for their future and their families. Two years on, these worst fears are coming true. Boris Johnson notoriously said “there is no plan for no deal because we are going to get a great deal”, but where is he now as we lurch towards a no deal exit? It would be catastrophic for people’s jobs, businesses and our economy and throw into complete uncertainty the lives of the three million Europeans who have made Britain their home.
I’ve never trusted this Tory Government to put forward a progressive vision for a post-Brexit future, and now Jacob Rees-Mogg and his band of Brextremists have effectively taken the Prime Minister hostage we are heading towards a future that devastates our economy, is anti-migration, anti-public services and sees a race to the bottom on workplace rights.
As your MP, I will do everything in my power to prevent that happening.
I voted against triggering Article 50 because I couldn’t back a process that would see us leaving the EU, and I supported over 30 amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill that would retain environmental protections, keep us in the Single Market, enshrine human-rights law, uphold our international commitment to UN conventions and protect workers’ rights. In recent weeks, I have sponsored two amendments to the Trade Bill that would have allowed for a continued Customs Union with the EU – essential as millions of jobs and thousands of businesses depend on it. The second would have allowed Parliament to ratify and consent to future trade deals to ensure scrutiny and oversight.
As Members of Parliament our vote is our voice and with the Tory party in complete disarray we came close to inflicting a defeat on crucial customs legislation that could have led to a vote of no confidence in the PM and a General Election. Yet May narrowly scraped through – twice by a majority of just three – which makes it all the more staggering that the Liberal Democrat Leader and ex-Leader didn’t even bother to turn up. These are nail biting, crucial decisions for the future of our country so what on earth could be more important? Perhaps, like the Prime Minister they wanted to start their summer holidays early.
With Parliament deadlocked, I’ll continue making the case for a People’s Vote. Support is growing across the political spectrum for giving the public a say on the final deal and keeping the EU membership deal we currently have on the table. A recent YouGov poll found that people would prefer to stay in the EU rather than accept a deal along the lines of the Chequers proposal or no deal. How can Parliament in all good faith continue to pursue an exit that everyone knows will damage our economy when there is such uncertainty? A People’s Vote would be based on reality – not the propaganda spread across the side of a bus.”