Brexit

1. I voted and campaigned to remain in the EU. Nevertheless, I am ready to accept pragmatic ways of making Brexit work if there is no democratic means of remaining in the EU – through a Parliamentary vote, a General Election or a second Referendum.

2. The Conservative government’s current position, reaffirmed in its recent White Paper after a 2-year delay, is causing real damage to the UK economy. Businesses are suspending investment decisions and/or moving to other EU member states.

3. I am clear that the Government’s White Paper does not offer an acceptable basis for leaving the EU (even in the unlikely event that it proved acceptable to the EU 27)) because:
a) It fails to meet the needs of the UK’s services sector, which represents 80% of our GDP – a “no deal” Brexit for services;
b) It fails to set out a workable solution for avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland, which is a threat to businesses as well as to security;
c) Above all, it fails to remove the possibility of an overall “no deal” Brexit.

4. A particular problem with the Conservatives’ current proposals is that its suggested customs arrangements are unworkable. This is causing further uncertainty for business and increasing the prospect of a “no-deal” Brexit, which would be disastrous. I support Labour’s alternative of a customs union with the EU post-Brexit, as a workable solution that also would protect the UK’s trade links with the world. Freedom to negotiate trade deals with non-EU countries is an illusory freedom through which stronger economies (such as the USA) will seek to drive down working, trading and environmental standards.

5. I support Labour’s call for a general election as a means of resolving Parliamentary deadlock. In any event, an extension of the Article 50 process is needed now to allow options to be properly considered.

6. ,Besides membership of a customs union, the UK must retain access to the Single Market (via EEA/EFTA membership or a bespoke arrangement) to ensure the “next best” conditions for businesses, jobs and the economy.

7. The scale of EU/EEA migration in parts of the UK causes concern to a significant proportion of the British people, however, EU/EEA migrants play a vital role in filling skill shortages and have a positive effect on economic growth. The UK government could within current EU/EEA rules regulate free movement of people to ensure that EU/EEA migrants do not become a burden on the UK’s welfare and public services.

8. As there is no majority in Parliament for the Government’s latest Brexit proposals, Parliament must:
a) Reject any deal that does not serve the interests of British businesses and the British people
b) Determine whether to remain or leave – through a vote in Parliament, a General Election; and/or a People’s Vote on the deal, including the option to remain in the EU.