On Tuesday, 15th January 2018, in Parliament I voted against Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement. I did this because this deal would not protect jobs, workplace rights or environmental standards. It won’t ensure frictionless trade for UK businesses and it provides no certainty about our future relationship with the EU.
Jeremy Corbyn has rightfully said from the beginning that we need a deal to support jobs and the economy and that guarantees standards and protections. We were always clear that if the deal did not meet our six tests and work for the whole country, then we would vote against it. We have delivered on that promise.
The Government’s Brexit defeat was the largest of any Government in British history. It was the same flawed deal the Prime Minister put before the House in December and the Prime Minister has not secured any changes to the Withdrawal Agreement or the Political Declaration. This a miserable failure after two years of negotiations.
This Prime Minister has lost her majority in Parliament, her Government is in chaos and she is unable to deliver a Brexit deal that works for the country. The deal is now dead in the water. That is why Jeremy Corbyn tabled a vote of no confidence in this Government which I also supported. Theresa May should now do the right thing, step aside, and call a general election.
I firmly believe a general election is the best way forward to give a new government a mandate. Labour has set out a better Brexit plan to support our programme to upgrade the economy and invest in every community. That deal would safeguard jobs, rights and standards and bring power and investment back to our nations and regions.
We do not accept a choice between Theresa May’s deal or no deal. A no deal Brexit would be a disaster for jobs, the economy and the border in Northern Ireland. It is not a viable option. So if the Government cannot win support for a deal, Labour will work across Parliament to block ‘no deal’.
On the question of a public vote, I remain firmly committed to the motion that was passed at Labour Conference. This motion said that in the event Parliament votes down a Tory Brexit deal or the talks end in no deal, then the best outcome for the country is an immediate general election that can bring about a Labour Government. A general election remains our priority.
However if that is not possible, we need to be flexible and to have all options on the table to break the deadlock and avoid no deal – including campaigning for a public vote.
I have been clear from the beginning that while I respect the result of the referendum, I will never vote for a deal that will result in lasting damage to jobs, rights and living standards in Brent and across the UK. My stance on this has not changed.