Thank you for writing to me about Brexit and the Withdrawal Agreement. As you can imagine, I have received a huge number of emails about this and people have a lot of different views on the way forward.
I have constantly sought views from local people and businesses, seeking a way forward that is both sensible and tries to bring people together around a consensus, hard as that is in the current climate.
I want us to be able to sort out our relationship with the EU so that we can all move forward and concentrate on the very pressing issues we face as a country – the decline of our public services, rising poverty and the need to tackle climate change.
Now the Prime Minister is about to put her Brexit deal to a vote in Parliament, after withdrawing it at the last minute at the end of last year. It’s clear that nothing has changed since that vote was pulled – the deal is the same and opposition to the deal remains on both sides.
In the large survey I undertook before Christmas, the Prime Minister’s deal was the least popular option, with only 5% wanting it.
My key concern about the deal is that it is simply a stop-gap until the end of next year. It offers no certainty on our future, long-term relationship with the EU, that would be left to the next Conservative Party leader to sign off. This would give us years of further negotiation and uncertainty. Given the very hard-line views of many of the leadership contenders, I’m not happy to leave our future in their hands.
There is no provision for Parliament to have a say on that deal, or on any future trade deals. As we need our own trade deals as soon as possible, we would be in a very poor negotiating position and would have to accept the terms offered to us or pay large tariffs.
So, I will be voting against the Prime Minister’s deal. Given the opposition of the DUP and elements of the Conservative Party, the deal is almost certain to be rejected but there is less certainty over what will happen afterwards.
The Prime Minister wants to create a false choice between her deal or “no deal”. Every economic forecast is that we would be much worse off leaving the EU with no deal. Besides the initial chaos at our ports because the government has not prepared properly for No Deal, we would face immediate tariffs on imports to the UK and significant tariffs on our exports to the EU.
We would also have to follow World Trade Organisation rules over which we will have no control.
And we would be faced with seeking free trade deals wherever we could get them, from a very poor negotiating position. President Trump has already said he would demand access for American private health companies to the NHS and for the UK to mirror the much lower food standards of the USA. Other large economies such as India and China will demand immigration rights to the UK.
These are far from the reasons that High Peak people who supported leaving the EU wanted – to take back control of our laws and of our borders, and to be able to conclude free trade deals that work for the UK.
That is why I signed a letter along with other MPs to rule out a “no deal” Brexit which would be a disaster for our country. I also supported Yvette Cooper’s cross party amendment in Parliament which prevents the Government implementing a “no deal” without first coming back to Parliament. Preventing a “no deal Brexit” must be our first priority.
Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly reached out to Theresa May to work for a cross-party Brexit deal that meets Labour’s sensible six tests to protect jobs and the economy, yet the PM has rebuffed him at every turn.
My own view is that we should seek to negotiate a deal that will work for British businesses and support jobs. The government’s own projections are that both the Prime Minister’s deal and leaving the EU with no deal would cause jobs to be lost. That’s borne out by local firms who are already transferring offices and jobs abroad, and say they would need to do more unless we have access to a Customs Union and the single market.
We also need a government that will seek to restore proper funding to our struggling public services to give us more police, reduce the long waits for GPs, ambulances and hospital appointments, invest in our schools and council services again, and tackle our growing levels of poverty, homelessness and food insecurity.
This government is failing the British people. I will support any vote of no-confidence in the government so that everyone can have a choice as to whether we want to continue with austerity, increasing poverty and a hard Brexit that will make our country even poorer; or a Labour government which will invest in our country and our people, and negotiate a Brexit deal that works for businesses and protects jobs.
Given that so many people both locally and nationally say they have changed their mind about Brexit, whatever deal is negotiated we need to be sure it is what most people want by holding a referendum on the terms of the deal to enable us to then move forward immediately and with certainty.
Whatever transpires this week, I will continue to put the interests of High Peak first. Despite the demands of Parliament I spend as much of my time and energy as I can on local issues – our transport, libraries, schools, businesses and health services.
That is what is most important to local people and as a local person myself, with my family growing up in High Peak, it’s what is most important to me.
Please do keep letting me know your views as the political situation transpires as things are likely to change and decisions need to be made quickly, so I appreciate hearing from constituents.