I will be voting against the deal (whenever the Prime Minister decides to bring it to the Commons) for the very fact that it gives absolutely no certainty as to what the future relationship between the UK and EU – which is about much more than just trade – will look like. The Political Declaration on the Future Framework is full of conditional terms such as “should aim”, “should allow”, “should include” and “us[ing] best endeavours” – it provides no commitment to frictionless trade, and is not, unlike the Withdrawal Agreement, a legally binding document. At heart, the deal proposed by the Prime Minister and the EU is merely agreeing a transition period, with no idea what EU-UK relations will look like at the end of 2020. As members of the EU, we currently enjoy some of the highest environmental and labour standards in the world – this deal would put those and much more in jeopardy, at the whim of a Tory government.
I firmly believe that there are other options open to the Government should Parliament reject Theresa May’s deal, including extending Article 50 and a People’s Vote with an option to remain, that would avoid a no deal: a truly disastrous scenario that only has the support of a few dozen Tory MPs, including Jacob Rees-Mogg. The new Work & Pensions Secretary, Amber Rudd, has said that Parliament will stop “no deal”, as there is not a majority for it in the Commons, and the success of former Attorney General Dominic Grieve’s amendment at the start of the Meaningful Vote debate means that Parliament now has a clear route to stopping “no deal” should the Prime Minister’s deal be defeated in the Commons. So any attempts to suggest that it’s Theresa May’s deal or no deal, are false.
I believe that as each day passes, a People’s Vote is increasingly the only way that we will be able to break out of the huge political impasse that our country finds itself in. It’s clear that more and more members of the public agree with this assessment: a recent poll indicated that more than 70% of constituents in Bristol East support a People’s Vote.
Rejecting the Prime Minister’s deal and supporting a People’s Vote – as I do – is not about liking (or not) the result of the 2016 referendum, but about the new facts that have emerged since that vote and the fact that we now know what a Brexit deal could look like. The promises made in 2016 are not going to be delivered, and any Brexit deal will impoverish our city and our country. I cannot and will not stand idly by and nod through this deal – or any deal – that harms my constituency, including the businesses that operate within it. We do need to move forward as a country and get back to the issues that are harming our society – a lack of housing, low productivity, stagnant wages, and an NHS in crisis. I firmly believe that leaving the EU will make these problems even harder to solve, not easier.
Ultimately, all decisions I make in relation to Brexit or any other policy matter are done so with the best interests of citizens and businesses in east Bristol at their core. I will not support anything that makes my constituency, our city, or our country poorer.