This week Parliament voted on several amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill on the UK’s negotiating aims and how the final Brexit deal will be agreed.
These are difficult decisions. Our negotiations will affect future generations and we all want the best possible outcome.
However, almost two years since the referendum, we are little further on in those negotiations.
Meanwhile, the uncertainty around our future border controls and regulations is leading employers – including several from High Peak – to move to another EU country.
We all need clarity sooner rather than later.
I have tried to seek as many local views as possible on our Brexit deal and the possible impact of those decisions. Thank you to everyone who has met me or written, and over 1,300 residents who completed my Brexit survey.
Businesses have told me we need a customs union to prevent tariffs and delays at our borders, and regulations which mirror the EU’s so they can continue to compete for orders.
Young people want to be able to study and work in Europe.
The Brexit survey gave very interesting responses. Few voters in High Peak had changed their mind since the referendum, although younger people who can now vote overwhelmingly supported remaining in the EU.
The full reports of the survey and my Business and Young People’s summits are on my website and provide very useful information for votes and debates in Parliament.
On Tuesday, after just 3 hours’ debate on very major issues, we saw a few concessions over the ‘meaningful vote’ on the final Brexit deal. But the government are prepared to continue with no deal until February – just 6 weeks prior to our exit from the EU. For businesses which need as long as possible to plan ahead, that is disastrous.
All of the amendments I supported which would have given more flexibility over our exit date and limited the government’s ‘Henry VIII’ powers to alter laws without a vote in Parliament were defeated.
Wednesday’s major votes are on a customs union and single market. I have always believed we need to keep the benefits of both, and local businesses agree.
I do not support joining the European Economic Area (EEA) as we could not be a member of that and a customs union, and it does not include agriculture, but I am supporting Labour’s amendment to require the Government to negotiate full access to the single market with no new impediments to trade, common rights, standards and protections as the EU, and shared institutions and regulations to ensure our businesses can still trade in Europe.
That would provide us with the least damaging Brexit deal, which is what we all want to see.