Understandably, in recent days many residents have been in touch to ask my opinion on the Prime Minister’s EU deal proposal. A minority of people – around 20% – have urged me to support the deal, while the majority have asked me to vote against it and either to back No Deal, a different deal, or a second referendum.
Some residents have also been in touch to accuse me of attempting to stop Brexit, and I’ve seen this being discussed on Facebook. I want to therefore take this opportunity to clarify what is actually happening.
Since June 2016 and the decision of the British people (including a majority here in Heywood and Middleton) to leave the EU, I have been clear that I respect that decision. That’s why I voted to trigger Article 50, and I have consistently said that we are indeed leaving the EU – the only question is how.
Labour’s general election manifesto on which I was re-elected in 2017 explained our Brexit policy. You can read the full text at
https://labour.org.uk/manifesto/negotiating-brexit/#first. It starts by making clear that “Labour accepts the referendum result and a Labour government will put the national interest first. We will prioritise jobs and living standards, build a close new relationship with the EU, protect workers’ rights and environmental standards, provide certainty to EU nationals and give a meaningful role to Parliament throughout negotiations.”
We pledged “fresh negotiating priorities that have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union – which are essential for maintaining industries, jobs and businesses in Britain. Labour will always put jobs and the economy first.” We also ruled out No Deal as an option.
Those are the pledges on which I was elected in 2017, and my own position – and that of the Labour Party – has not changed since then.
The deal offered by the Prime Minister and which MPs will vote this Tuesday is not acceptable. In November, I set out my reasons for opposing it and you can read that here: https://www.lizmcinnesmp.org.uk/blog/2018/11/20/brexit-statement/.
The Prime Minister delayed the vote in December when it became clear she would lose, but in the weeks since then absolutely nothing has changed. It was a bad deal in November, and it’s a bad deal now. Last week I spoke about this in Parliament: see https://www.lizmcinnesmp.org.uk/blog/2019/01/10/brexit090119/.
We need a deal which works, not Mrs May’s half-baked offering and most definitely not the chaos which No Deal would bring.
As I mentioned above, the Labour manifesto on which I was elected ruled out our support for No Deal as an option, stating “Labour recognises that leaving the EU with ‘no deal’ is the worst possible deal for Britain and that it would do damage to our economy and trade. We will reject ‘no deal’ as a viable option and, if needs be, negotiate transitional arrangements to avoid a ‘cliff-edge’ for the UK economy.”
The possible – and likely – effects of No Deal have been widely reported (for example see https://news.sky.com/feature/what-would-life-in-a-no-deal-brexit-uk-look-like-11584899). Just last week I was contacted by the National Farming Union who set out the huge damage No Deal could inflict on the British farming industry, and they’re far from alone in warning of the consequences of No Deal.
I appreciate that not everyone is convinced No Deal would actually be so disruptive. However, it is extremely likely that it would severely hurt our economy, trade, and security, and that it would harm people here in Heywood and Middleton. That is why a deal which means we can continue to trade freely and collaborate on important issues such as security is my own and the Labour Party’s preference; not to somehow thwart Brexit, but to leave in a way which doesn’t damage our country.
That being said, it is not the case that MPs including myself have already ‘voted against No Deal’ last week in Parliament. I have seen this shared on Facebook, but it simply isn’t true, because there has not been a vote on No Deal. What has in fact happened is a vote was held on an Amendment to the Finance Bill which limits the Government’s ability to raise finance for No Deal from taxation. I supported this amendment as I do not believe that anyone voted in the referendum to make themselves poorer or to raise their own taxes.
Anyone suggesting I am attempting in any way to halt or prevent Brexit is mistaken and I hope this has made that clear.
I will vote against the Prime Minister’s deal on Tuesday not because I want to stop Brexit, but because I am simply working to get a Brexit deal which will as much as possible benefit people in Heywood and Middleton and our country; one that will support jobs and the economy, and will ensure the brightest possible future for us outside of the EU.