December 2018: Your Local MP

November 29 2018

Support is growing for People's Vote

IT'S been well over two years since the referendum, and Theresa May has finally agreed a Brexit deal with the European Union. A huge 585-page Withdrawal Agreement has been produced: the result of protracted and sometimes painful negotiations between European and British diplomats. People could be forgiven for thinking that this is the beginning of the end of the Brexit process. In reality, it is merely the end of the beginning.

Untangling 45 years of legal, economic and political integration between the UK and 27 other countries is not a simple task, to say the least. The main proponents of the UK leaving the EU – the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Liam Fox – promised us all that it would all be so easy. The German car makers would force the EU to capitulate to British demands. The trade deals we enjoy by being part of the EU with the likes of South Korea, Japan, and Canada would automatically roll over the day after Brexit. We could enjoy all the benefits of the EU without any of the obligations, financial or otherwise.

Regrettably, none of this has come to pass. A sizeable minority of MPs, including me, voted against the triggering of Article 50, not because we wanted to stop or thwart Brexit, but because it was patently obvious that the Government had no plan for negotiating a deal that would safeguard our economy, protect workers’ and environmental rights and ultimately, be in the interests of the entire country, rather than just the Conservative Party.

Brexit has now taken up virtually all breathing space in politics. In Parliament, legislation in the Commons and Select Committee hearings are dominated by Brexit or the effects thereof, including contemplating the worst case scenario of “no deal”. 

The time has come for choices. I’ve been talking to local small businesses, who are being forced to move operations and jobs overseas in order to remain financially viable through access to the EU market and the European workforce. This is because Theresa May decided to go for a deal that will ultimately see us out of the Single Market and out of the Customs Union. MPs will be voting to accept or reject the prime minister’s Brexit deal, and then what to do should the deal be defeated. I think that a People’s Vote is inevitable in that scenario, and believe it would be a perfectly sensible way to resolved what would be a major constitutional and political impasse.

That means that local residents, too, may have choices to make.  A recent poll indicated that 62 per cent of residents in east Bristol support a People’s Vote, and 59 per cent of residents want to see the UK remain in the EU, which both show an increase in support for the EU since 2016. I’ve held Brexit Q+A sessions across the constituency, to try to answer any questions that local residents have had on this issue. My office has also dealt with several hundred individual enquiries about Brexit over the last year.

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.