My update and thoughts on the current situation as regards the Government and Brexit. The Prime Minister’s proposed Brexit deal has now been twice rejected by large majorities across the Commons.
I voted against it on Tuesday because it added virtually nothing to the one rejected back in January – as her own Attorney-General has admitted. It would have delivered the worst of all worlds, as many of my constituents have told me – whether for people that voted remain or leave.
After 2016 I respected the referendum result and voted to proceed with Article 50 which allowed May and her minority Government to try to negotiate a Brexit withdrawal from the European Union. I have always been very clear that protecting environmental, employment and consumer rights were of the utmost importance in any Brexit negotiations. The needs of smaller towns such as Blackpool in supporting the NHS, jobs and future economic prospects have to be strongly protected in any deal around withdrawing from the European Union. That’s also why the 2017 Labour Manifesto I was elected on clearly said that “leaving the EU with ‘no deal’ is the worst possible deal for Britain [which] would damage our economy and trade.”
The sheer volume of businesses, NHS and charity organisations and other groups including road hauliers, who have written to me in the past few weeks with detailed warnings make it clear as to how damaging no deal would be. A no deal Brexit is not just a no deal on trade. No Deal means no arrangements on security, aviation and consumer protection. It means no arrangement for animal welfare, for transport and for medicines. Not to mention all the issues around Northern Ireland.
We would have an inability to access many medicines along with a risk of immediate shortages of health professionals. Some pharmacists are already finding it difficult to source vital medicines and there are real concerns about drugs and short-life radiotherapy elements that are vital for cancer care. A no deal Brexit also means that our security and police services would inevitably not have access to the shared intelligence we currently rely on with Europe. A No Deal Brexit could mean chaos for food importers, producers and for fresh food supplies.
Independent estimates as well as the Government’s own statistics show that the cost of every day essentials could rise 10% under No Deal. This could have serious consequences for the lives of many people across Blackpool, particularly those who are vulnerable and on low incomes.
These are all the reasons why I have voted against No Deal Brexit. A bad deal or no deal Brexit serves nobody, least of all Blackpool people working for BAE at Warton or their supply-chains across Lancashire that could be disrupted, or seriously ill residents who might be affected by the shortages I’ve described. And none of us should risk losing overnight the guaranteed protections that have led to cleaner beaches, waters and a more sustainable environment.
Theresa May and her minority Government have had two years to get a decent deal but have failed. It is her failing to reach out beyond her own party that has left us in this perilous situation. Had she done so, the extension to Article 50 which Parliament agreed last night needs now to be negotiated. All this I know is hugely frustrating and worrying for people. I was elected to stand up for my constituents and get the best deal for their interests on the basis of evidence and facts presented to me, ones which I’ve listed here. That’s why I have and will consistently support measures to try to get a deal which can satisfy the needs of my constituents in Blackpool and of the country. Labour’s Brexit deal was an option for this and I believe it continues to be so.
We urgently need now a breathing space to work together and achieve an agreement on Brexit in Parliament. For Theresa May to try and bring back her twice rejected deal next week, with only 16 days left before a No Deal could kick in with all the repercussions mentioned, with no transition and little meaningful Government preparation will do nothing to help.