Parliament and the country should not be forced into the choice the Prime Minister is offering – that we should vote for any deal, however bad for Britain, or risk crashing out.
The Prime Minister has come back from Brussels with a withdrawal agreement that is incoherent and has no detail on the future relationship with the EU. I am also very concerned about the impact on Northern Ireland.
On Monday 10 December the Prime Minister cancelled the so-called meaningful vote the day before Parliament was supposed to have a say. Despite surviving the leadership challenge from within her own party she remains weak, as her visit to Brussels in December shows.
The Prime Minister has announced that the vote will now take place on the 15 January.
It is clear from what we have heard from EU leaders that the withdrawal agreement is not going to be renegotiated. This means weeks will have been wasted and gives very little room for the Prime Minister to bring any alternatives forward. It is clear Theresa May is playing a game of brinkmanship to force MPs to accept her deal. These are not the actions of a responsible Prime Minister working in the national interest.
The Labour Party will vote against the Prime Minister’s agreement. I cannot in all conscience support a deal which is so bad for Britain. I am also very clear that leaving without a deal would be very bad for our country. That is why I am supporting Hilary Benn’s amendment that would allow the House of Commons to reject both the Prime Minister’s deal and no deal and force consideration of other options.
On the 17 December Jeremy Corbyn tabled a motion, of no confidence in Theresa May personally. This is not the same as a vote of no confidence in the Government (which could lead to a general election being called). The Government did not have to allow time for it to be debated and did not do so.
I signed and voted for Yvette Cooper MP’s amendment to the Finance Bill. The amendment makes it harder for the Government to allow a No Deal Brexit without Parliament having a say. The Government was defeated in the vote on this amendment by seven votes. The first time a sitting Government has lost a vote on the Finance Bill since 1978.
I also voted for the amendment that forces the Government to bring an alternative plan to Parliament within three days of Theresa May’s deal being defeated.
Many people in Hackney have contacted me about a People’s Vote. I share the frustration about the lack of choice on the future of our relationship with Europe.
It is very difficult to secure majority support in the House of Commons for a second public vote at this stage. If Parliament fails to agree a way forward, we have failed in our role and voters should be allowed to have a say on the deal.
So, while I support the idea of a second vote it will not be easy to achieve. More MPs are likely to back a public vote on the deal if Parliament reaches an impasse but at that stage there is also the prospect of a vote of no confidence in the Government (if all opposition MPs – including the DUP and some Tories – vote together).
Given the Government’s reckless approach – triggering Article 50 so quickly, calling a General Election during negotiations and then delaying further by cancelling the meaningful vote in December we are hurtling towards a No Deal Brexit. This must be avoided at all costs.
For those of you interested in procedure, please see the links below to a short, useful and clear summary by Professor Vernon Bogdanor; the long but useful transcript of evidence by the Clerk of the House to the Brexit select committee (he will advise the Speaker on Parliamentary procedure around the meaningful vote); and a report from the Constitution Unit at UCL about the mechanics of a People’s Vote.
House of Commons Library - Brexit flow chart https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/parliament-and-elections/parliament...
Brexit Select Committee -http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/exiting-the-european-union-committee/the-progress-of-the-uks-negotiations-on-eu-withdrawal/oral/92186.pdf
Mechanics of a People’s Vote - https://www.ucl.ac.uk/constitution-unit/publications/tabs/unit-publications/The_Mechanics_of_a_Further_Referendum_on_Brexit