Last night Labour defeated the government’s Brexit ‘deal’ by an incredible 149 votes. I opposed this deal, and encouraged my Labour colleagues to do the same, because it was far inferior to full membership of the European Union. It was made up of the 585 Withdrawal Agreement and a 27-page document on the future relationship we would have with the EU, from January 2021 onwards.
In my view, the worst part of this deal was the vague document on the future relationship. Right now, we have an extremely complex relationship with the EU, built up over more than 40 years of cooperation, trade, shared laws and joint institutions. All this brings us huge benefits. We cannot throw all this away and leap into the unknown, based on some vaguely defined promises. The Tories’ disastrous negotiation tactics give very little confidence that they would make a success of the next stage of negotiation, which is even more critical.
These are my reasons for opposing this deal. But if we do leave the EU on May’s terms, I believe we must ask the people whether this is what they voted for, or if they would prefer the UK to stay in the EU. This confirmatory vote is the right thing to do, and it is likely to be the only way to break the deadlock. If we get this vote, I will campaign hard for ‘remain,’ as I did in the 2016 referendum, because I believe that the best possible relationship for us to have with the EU is full membership.
Before we get to that point, we have another vote, this time on whether ‘no deal’. I will be voting against no deal. As a whip, I will be working hard to make sure others vote against it too, because I believe leaving without any kind of deal would be an absolute disaster.
PS. Last night I was one of the MPs responsible for reporting the vote (see picture above) – which means that it may look like I didn’t vote. If you’re still curious, I recently did this interview explaining what it means to be a ‘teller.’