We live in interesting times. A supposed Chinese curse which has become the opening sentence to every conversation in Westminster. No one can say that politics is dull at the moment, although I, like most of you I think, am finding the political games surrounding Brexit which are dominating the news cycle deeply frustrating. I desperately want to focus my energy and efforts on the issues that matter to our day to day lives – jobs, education, the NHS, the rising use of food banks, to name but a few, instead the world is stuck in Brexit limbo and I’m sorry to be adding to the endless commentary on the issue, but I think it’s important that you know where I stand on the key issues and what I’m doing to fight for the Potteries as we leave the European Union. 

The country is horribly divided and it is simply impossible to ensure that everybody is going to be happy with where we end up. I have had hundreds of emails, letters and postcards in the last month. Some people asking me to fight for a no deal Brexit, others asking me to campaign for a second referendum and even a handful asking me to support the Prime Minister’s Tory Brexit. I am genuinely thankful to every person who has contacted me and I have read and considered every piece of correspondence, after all this is about all of our futures.

Given the ongoing chaos in Parliament, I want to be clear where I stand. Although I campaigned for remain, I know I lost.  In fact, I represent the third most leave Labour constituency in the country. So, I respect the result of the 2016 Referendum, I voted to trigger Article 50 and I am committed to delivering Brexit in a manner that will work for my constituents and our country. 

For me that means we have to leave with a deal. Crashing out of the European Union without a deal would be devastating for our local economy, not to mention our NHS, our environment and our international security.  So, I want a deal, but I want a good deal and it is clear to me that the proposal that Theresa May brought to Parliament last month simply wasn’t good enough.  It wasn’t good enough for me, for the wider Labour Party, for the DUP, for the Liberal Democrats, for the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists, for the Greens or for over 100 Tory MP’s. 

 Theresa May’s deal does not deliver on any of the issues that matter to us in the Potteries. It offers no guarantees on immigration, sovereignty, or our future trade arrangements. Therefore, unless changes are made before this deal comes before Parliament, whenever that will be, I will be voting against it.  To be clear however this isn’t a vote against Brexit, rather it is for a better Brexit then the one currently on offer.  

We all need better political leadership. We need the PM to focus on the country not on Tory infighting and we need a constructive cross party approach to delivering the will of the country. It is time for politicians from all parties to get on with our jobs, for our focus to be on people not parliamentary process and to achieve a Brexit that works for the Potteries, and I promise that’s what I’ll keep fighting for.

Merry Christmas to you and yours and here’s to much better political leadership in 2019!

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