I am against No Deal as an option and I will not support it.

To be clear: being against No Deal as an option has always been Labour’s position, and it was explicitly stated in the 2017 manifesto on which I was elected to represent Heywood and Middleton:

“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.”
(Labour manifesto, 2017: https://labour.org.uk/manifesto/negotiating-brexit/#first)

Also, the Leave campaign itself made it perfectly clear during the Referendum that we would leave with a deal. For example, see www.voteleavetakecontrol.org/briefing_newdeal and also the following:

“Taking back control is a careful change, not a sudden stop – we will negotiate the terms of a new deal before we start any legal process to leave.”
(Vote Leave: www.voteleavetakecontrol.org/our_case)

In addition, the information which was sent out by the Government at the time of the Referendum made it absolutely clear that a new deal will have to be struck (see https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/515068/why-the-government-believes-that-voting-to-remain-in-the-european-union-is-the-best-decision-for-the-uk.pdf).

Nobody could therefore have voted expecting No Deal to be the outcome.

So why am I against No Deal, and why have so many – including the Vote Leave campaign back in 2016 – been keen to rule it out? Well, 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) but I don’t rely solely on what the media reports. I am regularly contacted directly by industry representatives, individual businesses, health care providers and others, operating at both local and national levels, to warn about the huge damage No Deal could have on the economy, trade, jobs, British farming, the NHS, national security, and prices of essential everyday items from food to clothing.

As an example of how No Deal could directly affect everyone here in Heywood and Middleton, major food retailers including Asda, M&S, the Co-Op, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, McDonalds, and KFC have warned:

“We are extremely concerned that our customers will be among the first to experience the realities of a no deal Brexit. We anticipate significant risks to maintaining the choice, quality and durability of food that our customers have come to expect in our stores, and there will be inevitable pressure on food prices from higher transport costs, currency devaluation and tariffs.”
(Letter from representatives of the British Retail Consortium, 28th January 2019: https://brc.org.uk/media/378130/no-deal-brexit-letter.pdf)

The most recent figures I have for foodbank use in Heywood and Middleton show that between 1st April and 30th September 2018, 1136 three-day emergency food supplies were given to local people in crisis, with 406 going to children.

It would be grossly negligent and irresponsible for me to support No Deal in the knowledge that food prices would rise, at a time when so many families are already struggling to afford the basics in life.

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