The government has put the country on a collision course for a chaotic exit from the EU, and time is running out to salvage a deal. Yesterday I put this to Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab.
In a few short months, we are likely to leave the EU. According to the government’s own timetable, a deal should be agreed by the October Council of the European Union – which takes place next week. Yet Raab’s vague statement in the Commons yesterday showed that there is still a lot of work to do.
I have met Bristol businesspeople worried about a whole range of potentially destructive obstacles, including tariffs on exports, higher costs of food and other imports from the continent, additional bureaucracy, and the ability to employ staff from other EU countries. Some of these problems may not emerge, but as negotiations run into to the 11th hour, the looming possibility of a ‘no deal’ raises serious concerns.
It is hard to underestimate the scale of change that both no deal or ‘hard Brexit’ would impose. It would take us many years to prepare for disruption of this scale. Preparations for the London Olympic Games took well over a decade, according the Institute for Government, yet the Tories have wasted their tight two-year window arguing between themselves over what Brexit means. We do not have time for further Tory Party games.
Raab’s response to my question, stating the government has been working since 2016 on this, (“it has not been done in a hurry”) provoked astonished gasps from my side of the chamber.
This is just one reason I believe the UK should have as close as possible a relationship with the European Union. As a Labour whip and as an MP I will continue to push for this in Parliament.
If you are a constituent concerned about the effects of Brexit and would like to speak to me about this, please come to an event I am organising this Saturday in Bristol. Sign up here.