This is the single most important issue facing the country today. On the outcome of this process depends our future prosperity and therefore our ability, to pay for the publicly funded services and infrastructure as well as the defence and security we all need.
The so called “new deal” recently negotiated by Boris Johnson for us to leave the EU is fundamentally flawed. It is promoted as being an easy way to bring the wearying saga of Brexit to a reasonable end, but it does nothing of the kind. If we leave on the 31st January, a mere six weeks after the return of Parliament following this election, we go only into a “transition phase” where we must follow every EU rule without having any influence. Did we vote for that?
In order to get out of the transition arrangement, in practice, the Government would need, within six months, to have negotiated a Free Trade Agreement with the EU. If that could not be negotiated in time, the transition period would end with no future agreement at the end of 2020 which would leave us with even less influence to wield in order to secure a future trade deal.
No independent observer believes a free trade agreement can be reached by June. The reality therefore is that leaving the EU under Article 50 on 31 January 2020 does not and cannot “Get Brexit Done” as Boris Johnson claims. Instead we will be plunged into the next stage of the crisis which Brexit is causing. No certainty for business, no certainty for inward investment and the high risk of a disastrous “No Deal” outcome eleven months after he falsely claims he will have got Brexit done.
Boris Johnson’s “deal” also carves Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom economically, leaving it in an effective Customs Union with the EU, with Great Britain left outside. This outcome is in direct contradiction of Boris Johnson’s own previous assurances and threatens the break-up of the UK. In Scotland it is being used as a powerful argument for Scottish independence.
If elected, I am committed to working with like-minded colleagues from any political parties to try to mitigate the risks Brexit poses for all of us and for our children. I have already worked extensively on a cross-party basis over the last three years and especially in Parliament’s successful action this year to prevent Boris Johnson taking us out of the EU with no withdrawal agreement.
It Is Not Undemocratic To Give You The Final Choice.
I believe that, in the circumstances we currently face and now that we have a much clearer view of the situation, the best course of action is to return to you, the electorate and ask you to choose between the options available in a People’s Vote. Those options must include Boris Johnson’s deal, leaving with “No Deal” and remaining in the EU. The fairness of the vote can be ensured by using a single transferable vote to allow for a second preference if the first comes out with the lowest support.
If your chosen outcome in a People’s Vote is to leave, then the legislation needs to have been put in place beforehand to enable actual legal departure to follow immediately upon announcement of the result of your vote.
It is not undemocratic to ask the electorate to confirm or alter its opinion now that the choices are clearer. None of those promoting Leave in 2016 suggested departure on the terms being promoted by Boris Johnson. Nor was “No Deal” promoted as viable. I advocated this option to Theresa May’s government and have continued to advocate it to Boris Johnson’s government.
If we leave with Boris Johnson’s deal, I will work to try to ensure a future relationship with the EU that delivers frictionless trade. I simply do not believe that any trade deals which might be done with third countries outside of the EU will compensate for the loss of economic activity that will follow losing frictionless trade with our nearest neighbours. All Free Trade Agreements come with rules attached. So the idea that by leaving the EU we will escape rules which bind our sovereign freedom of action is a myth.