After a long week of Brexit votes and parliamentary division, I want to update my constituents on this weeks’ votes and outline my position in more detail.
From the beginning of the Brexit process, I have always been clear in my desire to respect the result of the 2016 referendum while protecting existing jobs, living standards and rights from the danger of a no deal Brexit. In 2017, I was elected on a Labour Party manifesto pledge to accept the referendum result and put the national interest first. This means supporting an outcome that seeks to unite the country around a Brexit deal that works for every community in Britain. By this measure, the Prime Minister’s botched Brexit deal has failed miserably. On Tuesday, she suffered a second crushing defeat in parliament as her deal failed to secure anywhere near enough support from within her own party. A day later, the Government was handed another humiliating defeat as MPs worked across the house to act in the national interest and try to take no deal off the table. On each occasion, I voted against the Prime Minister’s bad deal and against a disastrous no deal.
The Government’s failure to negotiate a good deal has already led to huge uncertainty, stifling investment and putting jobs at risk. Manufacturing is now in recession, numerous employers have announced job losses, and food producers are in despair.
The Brexit Secretary himself has said that no deal would be “ruinous” for the UK economy. I have always been clear this is a completely unacceptable outcome for our country. The Government’s own forecasts suggest that a no deal outcome would knock 10% off the economy, and their own impact assessment of no deal says customs checks could cost business £13 billion a year in a no deal scenario.
Tonight, I voted to extend article 50. I recognise the need to apply for an extension of Article 50 in order to prevent no deal and allow time to find majority support in parliament for a different approach. But for the Prime Minister, extending Article 50 without a clear change of direction is not a solution. The Government needs to find a compromise solution which can command support in parliament. In the coming days, I will be working to support such an outcome: one which puts Warrington’s jobs and living standards first.