I supported having an election not just because of the Brexit bind we find ourselves in but so we can bring an end to the intolerable levels of rising poverty, especially child poverty, resulting in deepening inequality and widening divisions in our country. However, I am not prepared to risk inflicting the disaster of a No Deal Brexit on our communities, jobs, public services and rights.
The No Deal option would not mean simply getting on with Brexit. It would mean the start of a whole new period of confusion and delay, but set against a backdrop of rising unemployment, further deindustrialisation and increasing deprivation across the UK. Unfortunately, this seems to be the course the Prime Minister is set on pursuing.
There is no mandate for No Deal, either in Parliament or in the country at large.
Boris Johnson’s revised deal primarily focuses on changes to the Northern Ireland backstop but sadly, is not a deal that I believe protects the Good Friday Agreement. Nor does it address any of the concerns I had with the previous deal, on issues such as: customs, our relationship with the single market, dynamic alignment with employment rights and protections, participation in EU agencies and funding programmes, and of course security and access to key agencies.
In so many ways the revised deal is now worse. It explicitly rules out a new customs union and a close future relationship with the single market. This has been a key demand of industry and trade unions.
It is also now explicit that there will be new trade barriers with the EU and additional checks at borders and paperwork on customs declarations required in relation to Northern Ireland at a cost to business of around £54 per declaration. Provisions on services have not been improved and commitments on workers’ rights and environmental protections are now significantly weaker. There has also been no progress on the question of our future participation in security arrangements or agencies.
I believe this deal is therefore far worse than the deal previously rejected by Parliament.
It will undoubtedly pave the way for deregulation and privatisation while putting food safety at risk, cutting environmental standards and workers’ rights, and opening up our NHS to a takeover by private corporations particularly Trump like deals from the USA. I believe this deal will unquestionably harm jobs, rights and living standards. I am therefore opposed to it and did not support it in Parliament.
The intent behind it too is a cause for grave concern. In particular it proposes that matters normally set by Primary Legislation (by all of Parliament) can be approved or changed by an appropriate authority (a Minister) which is Secondary Legislation. Taking us back once again to the concept of Henry VIII Powers. It also appears to not pay due cognisance to the devolved settlements of Scotland and Wales.
However, Boris Johnson only set aside three days for its full scrutiny in the House of Commons – normally weeks or months would be allocated for legislation of such significance and with such huge consequences for our country and for future generations. I believe this limitation on Parliament’s scrutiny of it is outrageous. On that basis, I voted against the timetable proposed by the Government.
The reasons people voted for Brexit cannot be ignored. We therefore need a Government that will deliver real change and transformative policies, ending austerity and investing in all parts of our country.
We now have a Brexit extension until the end of January and I believe this general election gives us the opportunity to remove this Government and this dangerous Brexit deal in order to let the people decide in a referendum.
I support and will be campaigning for a Labour Government that will put the issue of Brexit back to the people with a credible Leave option versus Remain. I will be campaigning to remain in a subsequent referendum.