Thank you to everyone who has contacted me regarding the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal.
As many of you will be aware, the vote took place on Wednesday 30th December and I voted in favour of the deal.
This was far from an easy decision to make and I know that some constituents will disagree with how I voted. I therefore thought it would be helpful to set out my reasoning below.
Firstly, it was completely unacceptable that the debate took place just one day before the end of the transition period. The Prime Minister said he had an “oven-ready” deal a year ago, yet businesses have had no chance to prepare for the new regulations. Many of them have already been forced to make difficult decisions about jobs and investment as a result of the uncertainty, and of course this has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Without doubt, no deal would have been disastrous for Lewisham Deptford and for the country as a whole. That is why I ultimately felt I could not oppose the deal.
That said, I am fully aware of its limitations. It falls far short of what was promised. Farmers, car manufacturers and the chemicals industry face extra delays, costs and bureaucracy when taking their goods to European markets.
On security, the UK will no longer have access to certain databases which allow for real-time data sharing. This includes the Schengen Information System, which relates to wanted or missing persons or objects.
I supported seven proposed amendments to the bill which showed how things could be done differently. They covered: the economic impact of the agreement; our lack of access to the Schengen Information System; the protection of worker and environmental standards; the Erasmus programme; performers’ and artists’ permits; the duty of the trade and co-operation agreement partnership council to report to Parliament; and, crucially, support and information for businesses. As the Government had not allowed any time for a committee stage, the amendments were not considered.
I do not doubt that in the weeks and months ahead the holes in the deal will continue to be exposed. Throughout, my focus will be on supporting efforts to improve and build on it.
As the majority of my constituents will be aware, I opposed Brexit from the beginning and remain incredibly saddened by the fact that we have left the EU. However, I hope that over the coming months we can come together and look to build a better future.
We remain a European nation with shared geography, history, values and interests. The job of securing our economy, protecting our national health service, tackling climate breakdown and rebuilding our country has only just begun, and I will continue to hold the Government to account throughout this process.