Last night I voted in the House of Commons to take No Deal off the table. Many people have contacted me to question this, given that Nottingham North voted to leave the EU in 2016.
In 2017, I campaigned to represent this constituency on a manifesto that very straight-forwardly pledged ‘to reject ‘no deal’ as a viable option’. That is what I am now doing.
I respect the outcome of the 2016 referendum, but I do not believe that No Deal is what the majority of the UK voted for when voting to leave the European Union. The Vote Leave campaign themselves explicitly said there would be a deal.
I believe No Deal would be the worst possible outcome to this process, with severe consequences across many areas.
No Deal would mean an end to the frictionless and tariff-free trade with the EU that our manufacturers rely on. Many businesses, such as the car industry, have supply chains and productions processes interwoven throughout Europe. According to Government analysis, customs checks could cost businesses £13 billion a year. The impact of non-tariff barriers under No Deal would be greatest felt by our services sector, which makes up 80% of the UK economy.
Amongst other issues, No Deal also currently means no reciprocal deal on citizens’ rights, including those British citizens living, working and studying in EU countries. No Deal would also mean no agreement on how to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
I also have serious concerns about the way the Government has handled Brexit. I believe the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, which has now been overwhelmingly rejected by Parliament twice, is deeply flawed and a bad deal for our country. It does not protect jobs, workplace rights or environmental standards, and it provides no certainty on our future relationship with the EU.
I have never accepted that Parliament’s choice must be between a bad deal or No Deal. Parliament has already rejected No Deal and the Government does not have the right to plunge our country into chaos because of its own failure to get a good deal. I believe all necessary steps must be therefore be taken to avoid such an outcome.
We are now at a point where unfortunately, due to the Prime Minister running down the clock with this unnecessary binary choice between a rock and a hard place, extending Article 50 is the best option. I will be voting tonight to request that European Union is asked for such an extension.
This is not an attempt to thwart Brexit from happening, but the only way that we can continue protecting our economy, our jobs, our workplace rights, our security, our environmental standards, and much more, that we are at risk of losing.
If that vote is successful, I hope that Parliament will finally be given the opportunity to present its own Brexit deal – one that can provide that which the Prime Minister’s deal and No Deal don’t, while also respecting the referendum result. This is what I will continue fighting for.