National policy responses

Statement on the EU Withdrawal Agreement

Date: 15.11.18 | in: European Union

My statement on why I will vote against the deal when it comes to a vote in the House of Commons

I am writing to update you on my position on the EU Withdrawal Agreement that Theresa May has brought back from Brussels. This statement was written on Thursday, November 15th, and there is a lot of dust still to settle and a lot of detail within the 585-page document be worked through.

It has become clear that this is a deal I cannot support. It crosses the Prime Minister’s own red lines, fails Labour’s six tests and the position I set out to you, my constituent, in last year’s General Election. I have consistently voted for the UK to remain in a (permanent) Customs Union with the EU and have full access to the European Single Market. Rather than bringing a sense of finality and security to the country, the Withdrawal Agreement extends the period of uncertainty to an undefined future point.

The deal does not guarantee a permanent Customs Union. The temporary agreement that has been made ensures that we have no say on the trade and standards that are set in Europe. It doesn’t specify what will happen after the implementation period. It also makes the likelihood of a catastrophic hard Brexit at the end of the transition period more likely – especially if the Conservatives negotiate the Canada-style trade deal that the likes of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg want. This will necessitate a bonfire of the rights and standards that we enjoy today.

There are some gaping omissions from this document covering vital security arrangements, including the European Arrest Warrant, and no clear commitment to maintain current arrangements in Europol. There is no tangible commitment to retain membership, or equivalent arrangements, for a whole raft of agencies and programmes from which we currently benefit – such as Erasmus, the European Medicines Agency and the Aviation Safety Agency.

There is no clarity as to who will enforce environmental regulations. Considering the UK Government went to court three times over air quality and lost each time, this doesn’t instil confidence that we won’t see dangerously unsafe air, water and food as well as miss our carbon targets.

There is no long-term plan for the border on the island of Ireland which only brings a sense of uncertainty and anxiety to a very complex and historically volatile region. The agreement also creates different rules in Northern Ireland than the rest of the UK, which could lead to the breakup of the United Kingdom by default.

In short, I do not believe that the only options are Theresa May’s deal (that looks to be losing more credibility with every hour that passes) or no-deal. We must pursue every option on the table, including giving the British people a say on a deal that appears very far removed from what was offered by the Leave campaign in 2016.


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