No one can say politics is boring at the moment – but trust me it is difficult
I would love to be writing today about anything other than Brexit. I want to be highlighting the savage cuts we’ve seen announced by the City Council to our local services. I want to be able to praise local voluntary organisations for everything they do to support our community, like ‘Ay Up Duck who fed nearly 9,000 children over the school holidays. And I want to be able to talk about the impact of policing cuts and the fact that I had a debate in Parliament last week. But as ever Brexit dominates.
Firstly, I need to apologise. I should have voted for a deal earlier this year. I didn’t, like lots of Labour and Conservative MP’s, because I thought we could do better. And honestly, I didn’t believe that any British Prime Minister, of any party, would be so reckless with our economy as to seriously threaten leaving without a deal. I was wrong and I’m sorry.
As one of our local MP’s I know it’s my responsibility to act in our best interest and in the National interest. I truly believe that that means we need to leave the European Union, ideally by the end of October. But with a Deal. Honestly, we can’t afford anything else.
Too many in our community are already struggling. 42% of our children are living in poverty. Demand at the Foodbank is increasing month on month. Unemployment in the north of the city means that we have 940 more people on the dole today then we did this time last year.
Every local employer is asking me to vote for a deal. They can’t afford further uncertainty and they don’t know what will happen to their business if we crash out of the EU. They don’t want us to take the risk.
And it’s not only jobs, if we crash out of the EU without a deal, food prices are likely to go up between 15 and 50%. A £2 block of cheddar will become £2.84 overnight. We can’t afford that. And I won’t do anything to make it harder for our families to put food on the table. We’ve had 9 years of Conservative austerity and I won’t vote for years of Brexit austerity on top of that. I can’t do that to our community. But that doesn’t mean I don’t respect the result of the referendum. I do. I just want to make sure Brexit is delivered in a way that strengthens us but not screws us.
I know how angry many of you are. But I want to make it clear. I didn’t vote this week for an unending delay to Brexit. I didn’t vote to frustrate it. I voted to give Boris Johnson time to bring back a new deal from Europe. And if he can’t I helped change the law to force the Government to table the full deal negotiated by Theresa May which was never put to Parliament, so that we have a backup plan. A deal (although far from perfect) to vote for, if Boris Johnson fails to get his own deal.
So, this is my promise to you. I’ll vote for whatever deal we manage to get. And I’ll do it before the end of October. And then I’ll vote for a General Election. I think having an Election while the country is this fragile would be the most economically irresponsible thing any Government has ever done, and I don’t want to put our families at risk. So, I won’t support one until we have a plan for Brexit.
I can’t remember a time when our country felt more divided. When people were this angry. When events in Parliament were causing rows in every family. So, it’s time to draw a line in the sand. To move on. To deliver Brexit and then have a General Election so that our country can start to come back together. Which is what I’ll be trying to do when I go back to London today.