Today in parliament (Monday 11 September 2017), we will be debating and voting on the second reading of the European Union Withdrawal Bill. This is one stage in the bill’s process through parliament. There will be further stages, and opportunities to debate and amend the bill, this autumn.
I regularly consult residents of Bristol West. Four out of five of them voted to remain in the European Union last June. Four out of five of them continue to tell me that they believe that the best relationship for the UK to have with Europe is full membership of the European Union (EU). I agree with them.
Full membership of the EU is best for jobs, for workers’ rights, for environmental protection and for our place in the world.
If, reluctantly, we are to accept leaving the EU, I want us to keep full membership of the Single European Market and Customs Union for as long as possible and keep both on the negotiating table for our future relationship with the EU. You can read more about what these terms mean here (see especially Annexe 2, p.25).
It’s important to note that membership of the Single Market and the Customs Union help maintain free movement of goods, services, labour and capital; reduce trade barriers, and maintain consumer rights. They also help our universities by keeping us in the Horizon 2020 and ERASMUS schemes. Other countries such as Norway are outside the EU but are part of the Single Market, for instance.
I believe it is best for my country and my constituents that we have as close a relationship with the EU as possible.
This government is recklessly throwing away all of the best possible options. Labour wants to keep them on the negotiating table. With this bill, the government is giving itself sweeping powers to make huge changes, virtually unchecked by parliament. They have also failed to protect environmental standards. This is worrying, because the only protection we have from air pollution for example, currently derives from EU rules and the government had to be taken to court to stick to them.
I voted against triggering Article 50 because the government had shown itself to be singularly ill-equipped to start the process of leaving the EU. I will be voting against the bill tonight because I believe this is the best way of making the government reconsider their strategy.
There is a long way to go in this process so I need your views and thoughts. I will continue to hold regular EU meetings, consult you through surveys, listen to your views in person and through my inbox.
Please do complete this short survey and add in anything you think I need to know or any questions you have.