So, the deal is done. Just not one that anyone wants. After two years of wrangling that’s one thing we can all agree on. But don’t judge this book by its cover. This deal bears no resemblance to the easy promises of the Brexiteers. No resemblance to taking back control of our laws and our borders because, with the Northern Ireland backstop arrangement, we could forever be in Europe’s hold until they say otherwise. And, despite Tory promises on fisheries and protests from the Fisheries Association, it’s clear Europe has no intention of giving up access to our waters.
No protection or guarantee for workers’ employment rights and conditions, no environmental rights and protections; no commitment to continue to mirror those of Europe. More fundamentally, no adjudication mechanism. From a government whose track record in this area is dismal, this glaring omission tells us things are definitely not going to get better.
Just look at Universal Credit. It has stripped thousands of women and men of dignity, of the ability to feed their children and themselves, to heat their homes. And, despite the Daily Mail headlines, many people in this situation are working. The Tories say it’s about making work pay; unemployment is at its lowest level since 1975. But six million UK workers don’t earn the living wage. Over one million have a “contract” that guarantees no regular hours and no regular wage. Ask yourself: what kind of quality of life is that for people living in the sixth richest country in the world.
So why am I linking Brexit and Universal Credit? Well, put simply, if you care about what happens to this country and your family, do not fall for this deal. Working people are still picking up the cost of the bank crash while the gap between the rich and poor grows further. If we allow the Tories to railroad this deal, working people will be left to pick up the cost again.
The meaningful vote in Parliament will accept or reject this deal. Labour will vote against it. This Government at that point will have lost its mandate to govern. Its competence, and compassion has long since left the building and it’s now time for them to do the same.
Throughout this process, Labour has sought to provide solutions that will bring our divided country back together. We have advocated a Brexit deal that protects jobs, the economy, rights and protections.
Over the coming weeks we will do everything in our power to prevent a calamitous no deal outcome and will work across the House to prevent that scenario from coming to pass.
As we reach this critical point, it is Labour providing the real alternative to this half-baked Brexit deal and the political will to address our unequal economy and society.