European Economic Area Membership – Open Britain campaign

I have consistently said that our future relationship with the EU must put jobs and the economy first and must therefore maintain the benefits of the Single Market.

I am committed to holding the Government’s Brexit deal against this test when it comes before Parliament for approval. I have long believed that Parliament must be given a meaningful vote on the final terms of our exit from the EU and that is why I voted for an amendment to the Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill last December to require that the final withdrawal deal be approved by Parliament. If the Government’s Brexit deal does not meet this test, I will vote against it. Securing a new and strong relationship with the Single Market is not only vital for jobs and the economy, but also for ensuring a continued close partnership with the EU.

I share the understandable and growing concern that the Government’s internal conflicts could lead it to an unacceptable countenance of new trade barriers between the UK and the EU. Not only would that be bad for jobs and the economy, it would also be bad for people’s rights. There should be no lowering of common standards, deregulation or divergence from the rights and protections that the UK helped to shape as a member of the EU. However, I fear that this is the likely path ahead under the Government’s plans. But the ball is in their court to bring their deal to Parliament.

The Labour Party have been clear from day one about our aims and ambitions for Brexit. That is why my colleague Keir Starmer – Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union – set out his six tests, some of which are commitments that were made by the Government at the outset of this process, and we intend to hold them to those commitments. The six tests are below:

  1. Does it ensure a strong and collaborative future relationship with the EU?
  2. Does it deliver the “exact same benefits” as we currently have as members of the Single Market and Customs Union?
  3. Does it ensure the fair management of migration in the interests of the economy and communities?
  4. Does it defend rights and protections and prevent a race to the bottom?
  5. Does it protect national security and our capacity to tackle cross-border crime?
  6. Does it deliver for all regions and nations of the UK?

When it comes to the final Brexit deal, we will judge whether it meets our six tests for Brexit and we will not vote for it if it does not. That is why it is absolutely imperative that we have a meaningful vote in Parliament, because Labour would never vote for a bad Brexit deal that would be detrimental to our economy, our jobs or our rights and protections.

It is also vital that strong transitional arrangements are secured on the same basic terms as now, including within the Single Market, to avoid a cliff edge for our economy between Brexit day and the implementation of our future relationship with EU. Unfortunately, key aspects of the transitional arrangements negotiated between the Government and the EU remain ambiguous and unresolved.

The amendment to which you refer was one of several to be made to the EU Withdrawal Bill in the House of Lords, in a series of defeats for the Government. It is unclear when the Government will bring the EU Withdrawal Bill back to the House of Commons for consideration of those amendments.

This is a vital piece of legislation and I can assure you that I will be looking at each amendment carefully. In the meantime, I will continue to keep pressure on the Government to secure a Brexit deal that works for jobs, the economy and rights.