No Deal Brexit

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.

Alex

The MacPherson Report

On Monday evening, I led a debate to mark the 20th anniversary of the MacPherson Report. The report concluded that Stephen Lawrence’s brutal murder, on 22nd April 1993, was unequivocally motivated by racism and found the MET police to be institutionally racist.

The report highlighted necessary change in a number of related areas, making 70 recommendations for the Home Office, police forces and other public bodies.

After twenty years, we have seen a lot of change but there’s also been stagnation. One such area that I highlighted is the fact that across England and Wales, the proportion of officers from a BAME background, at 6.6%, remains significantly lower than the general population, which is 14% BAME.

It has been suggested that it will be 2052 before the police service represents the population it serves. There is also a dire lack of black female police officers. Indeed, 13 of 43 police forces in England and Wales have no black female officers. In fact, the total number of black female officers in the past ten years has only increased by 34. While there are efforts to recruit more BAME officers, these efforts are undermined by a culture that is still not embracing diversity.

Again, this is an exceptionally troubling picture. It fundamentally undermines the authority and legitimacy for police forces to fail to represent the communities they serve.

I also noted the important point that the Macpherson report criticised disproportionality in stop and search. Figures suggest that race this is actually worse now than it was twenty years ago. A black person is 9 ½ times more likely to be stopped and searched today than a white person.

Taken altogether, it points to a culture of institutional racism which must be tackled as a cross-party effort. It is an important challenge and I hope that colleagues on both sides of the House will join me in reflecting on the diversity of the communities we represent.

You can watch the full debate here, read a transcript here, or watch a few select clips here, here and here.

Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme

Yesterday I led a debate on the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme in Westminster Hall and the encroaching role of Modern Slavery within migrant agricultural work.

Since my election in 2017, I have been proud to play my part in combatting Modern Slavery. In the UK, the number of modern slavery cases rose by 35% from 2016-17, with agriculture as one of the worst sectors.

I called the debate on the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme to highlight the risks involved. The SAWS was announced last September by the Home Secretary and it offers fruit and vegetable farmers a route to alleviate labour shortages during peak production periods by employing migrant workers for up to 6 months. Whilst the scheme presents a major opportunity for a post-Brexit Britain to demonstrate its preservation of workers’ rights, it also carries the risk of exploitation.

The scheme risks labour abuse and exploitation, with a possible escalation to modern slavery and human trafficking. In particular, workers on this scheme are at risk of debt bondage, a form of modern slavery where an individual is forced to work to pay off an inflated or artificial debt. When seeking low paying jobs in the UK, such as agricultural work, migrants are often forced to seek loans from unreliable lenders at the risk of intimidation and violence.

Around half of victims of forced labour in the private economy are in debt bondage. Further, under the previous iteration of the SAWS which ended in 2013, workers were subject to abuse and reported utter deprivation – because of low hours, bad weather affecting work and instances of being paid less than minimum wage. Therefore, it is crucial to highlight the risks of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme in order to avoid the mistakes of the old scheme and to ensure that no system, plan or pilot perpetuates exploitation against migrant workers.

The Government needs to ensure that workers on the scheme will have access to public funds to ensure that workers are not charged for accommodation and fuel if their paid hours fall below an acceptable limit per week. Also, I argued that we need meaningful enforcement and that the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority must be properly resourced in order to ensure that this scheme does not lead to modern slavery.

As our country faces a major turning point, we must set ourselves to a high bar where we lead by example and close the gaps in the system that allow abuse to prevail.

You can watch a clip from this debate here or the whole debate here.

Past Issues

Since I’ve switched up the format of my weekly newsletters, we haven’t been able to upload the content directly to this website, but all past issues become immediately available at the source, with links to all of them found here.

I also share the direct link each week on my Facebook page, which you can access and sign up to follow here.

Or even better yet, if you’d like to subscribe to receive the newsletter by email every Friday, you can either click here and enter your details, or drop me an email to alex.norris.mp@parliament.uk asking to be added to the list.

My Newsletter 13/07/2018

My latest weekly newsletter went out on Friday, where I talked about what I’d been up to during the week, our campaign to save Once Upon a Time nursery, and the work I’m currently doing on the Home Affairs Select Committee.

If you don’t receive it by email already, you can also read last week’s issue by clicking here, or email me at alex.norris.mp@parliament.uk letting me know that you’d like to start receiving it.

Any previous issues you missed can also be found here.

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