It is great that so many people joined the march on Saturday to make their feelings known. I was expecting an inbox full of emails calling for a People’s Vote on Monday morning, and I have to say I was not disappointed.
I thought it might be useful to outline my own thoughts and actions on Brexit to date.
I campaigned passionately to remain in the EU during the 2016 referendum and I voted against triggering Article 50 last year. My opinions have not changed since 2016 and I remain committed to ensuring our relationship with the EU remains strong and collaborative. I do not accept the Prime Minister’s definition of Brexit, and I am deeply concerned by the government’s dangerously chaotic approach to the negotiations.
I have long believed that Parliament must be given a say on the final terms of our exit from the EU. That is why I voted for a successful amendment to the EU Withdrawal Act last December requiring that the final deal be approved by Parliament. This amendment was a real step forward.
After the mistakes and mishaps of the last two years, I believe we must be prepared for the possibility that the Prime Minister may fail to deliver a suitable Brexit deal. Labour will judge this deal against six tests, based on the government’s own promises. If the deal fails to meet these tests – as now seems certain – Labour will vote against it.
I am also concerned about the fact that the government continues to assert that Parliament’s “meaningful vote” will be a take-it-or-leave-it choice between whatever deal the Prime Minister secures and crashing out of the EU with no deal at all.
In response to a letter from the House of Commons Procedure Committee asking for clarification last month, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab hinted once again that the vote should be a simple “yes-or-no” to the deal. Jeremy Corbyn described Mr Raab’s letter as a “supreme piece of arrogance” and stated that there should be a “serious and proper debate and the opportunity to amend what the government has put forward.”
If that should happen, it is Parliament’s duty to set the direction for the next steps and we should have all options on the table at that time. Those options should absolutely include the possibility of calling for a people’s vote and/or a second referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal, as well as a general election.
This is a matter of national interest and there must be proper accountability over the Brexit process – both in Parliament and from the public. As your elected representative in Parliament, I welcome your views and comments throughout this process so thank you to everyone who has got in touch.