Sorry, It’s time to talk about Brexit, again.
There’s been a lot written and spoken about our imminent departure from the European Union. But after all the noise the reality is that we are still set to leave the EU in 10 days and we are yet to agree on what terms. In other words – Nothing has changed…
I was proudly re-elected in 2017 to be the Labour Member of Parliament for Stoke-On-Trent North & Kidsgrove. At the General Election I stood on a national manifesto to respect the result of the Brexit referendum and a local manifesto to deliver a Brexit deal that would work for the Potteries. As part of my personal promise to our community I also made it clear that I would not back a second referendum.
At every stage of the chaotic Brexit debate in Westminster I’ve tried to stay true to my word, representing your views and balancing my responsibilities to the Potteries and the country. I voted to trigger Article 50, I called for a fixed date to leave the EU, I met with Ministers to raise the needs of local industry and workers and I refused to support delays to Article 50 until the Prime Minister outlined why she needed extra time.
Last month, in order to keep my personal pledge to you, along with Gareth Snell MP, I didn’t follow the Labour Party into the voting lobbies to delay article 50. And last week I resigned from my position on Labour’s front bench in order to keep my promise to you and vote against another referendum. None of these have been easy decisions, after all we’ve never faced many of these issues before. But my first priority is the needs of my constituents and for them to be able to trust me and I hope they feel they can.
So the real question is what’s going to happen next? We need a deal. I, like the majority of MP’s, am completely opposed to crashing out of the EU without agreeing terms. Even if we wanted to leave without a deal we’re simply not ready to. The Borders Agency isn’t ready, the NHS isn’t ready, industry isn’t ready and WTO terms would push up food prices immediately, something I simply can’t vote for. And whilst I genuinely believe that we as a country will overcome whatever challenges are put in front of us, I won’t vote to make those challenges harder then they need to be.
So this week Parliament needs to come together. The Prime Minister needs to reach out across the aisle and start working with Labour MP’s to deliver a deal which will work for the whole country. One I can vote for. And we need to get on with process of leaving the EU so that we can deal with all the other issues which are important to people’s lives, like education, the NHS and jobs & investment in the Potteries.
I know it’s a mess and I’m sorry. But all I can promise you is that I’ll keep fighting our corner and do everything I can to get a deal that works for you.