I opposed the Government’s Brexit plan when it came before Parliament at the end of March. This was the third time the Government has tried to force the deal through Parliament, and voting for the Withdrawal Agreement would have meant waving it through without any certainty over our future relationship with the EU. It is clear that the Prime Minister should now drop her failed deal and find a consensus on a different way forward that can protect jobs, rights and the economy.
This month there were a series of further indicative votes on Brexit.
I supported Ken Clarke’s amendment on a Customs Union, which was in line with Labour’s long-term commitment to pushing for a comprehensive customs union as part of the UK’s future relationship with the EU. We recognise this as a vital component of protecting manufacturing jobs, complex supply chains and preventing a hard border in Northern Ireland. This amendment was defeated by a small margin of three votes.
I also voted in favour of Nick Boles’ amendment on the so-called ‘Norway+’ or ‘Common Market 2.0’ approach. This amendment would have allowed for a close economic partnership with the EU, and represented a credible proposition which could have formed the basis of future negotiations. Again, this was defeated – resulting in Nick Boles’ resignation from the Conservative Party.
I voted for Yvette Cooper’s bill to delay article 50, which forced the government to set out its timetable for the length of the Brexit delay in order to prevent the UK exiting the EU with no deal. Following the passage of this bill and EU council meetings, EU leaders agreed to delay the UK’s departure date from 12 April to 31 October to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
Talks between the Labour and Government frontbenches are ongoing. Labour will continue to make the case for a comprehensive EU customs union and a confirmatory public vote on a Brexit deal as options to break the impasse