On Tuesday night I will be voting on the proposed deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union that the Prime Minister has laid before the House of Commons. As it currently stands, I will be voting against this deal. It may yet change as, at this point, even a day is a long time in Westminster. If the situation does change, I will react appropriately to the circumstances.
I have heard from many of you in recent weeks with a wide variety of views heard from many Labour Party members. I have listened to my constituents, I have listened to you, I have listened to my staff and to my conscience before deciding on my course of action.
My biggest concern is for the well-being of workers and their families in Hartlepool; and for pensioners and disabled people many of whom are already subsisting on meagre amounts of money with too many having to resort to foodbanks and charity. Mrs May’s deal does not inspire me with confidence that those people will be protected after Brexit. The Conservatives have proven time and time again that they cannot be trusted to protect the rights that have been hard-won by the Labour Movement and I remain unconvinced by the concern Mrs May has been attempting to show to the General Secretaries of the largest unions this last week. As a proud trade-unionist, I cannot stand by and watch this happen.
I am also unconvinced by the “assurances” Mrs May has sought on the question of the Irish Border. After two decades of peace, it seems unbelievable that a Government could act with such blatant disregard for peace in Northern Ireland, given the possible political and social consequences to this decision.
Mrs May has attempted to hold Parliament and the Nation at ransom, stating that it is her deal or no deal. However, many of my colleagues across the Chamber have been fighting to ensure that this is not the case. Most recently, Yvette Cooper MP and Dominic Grieve MP QC have added amendments to various motions to try and ensure that Mrs May cannot seek to push for a No Deal Brexit purely out of spite.
No Deal will threaten manufacturing and other significant employment sectors in the North East and it will give the Conservative Party carte-blanche to attack workers rights. We will see further poverty if the economy takes a substantial hit in losing around fifty percent of its export market overnight and is forced to resort to World Trade Organisation Tariffs for the foreseeable future in all international trade. Greater poverty and an economic slump would worsen the situation for those suffering the indignity of Universal Credit and Work Capability Assessments. People feel that their situations are already at “rock bottom” but unfortunately, things can potentially get worse.
Thus, I cannot under any circumstances support a No Deal Brexit and must therefore try to balance this with the views of a majority of my constituents who still wish to leave the European Union on a variety of different terms. However if “No Deal” happens then of course I will work to help lessen the impact on Hartlepool.
This course of action is not easy, nor do I take the decisions lightly and I understand very well that a majority of local Labour Party Members in Hartlepool Constituency Labour Party, like myself, had voted ‘Remain’ in the 2016 Referendum. However, I would ask for your forbearance and your understanding that I must respect my constituents wishes.
The decision of the Referendum was that we leave the European Union and, until I am shown convincing evidence that a substantial majority of my constituents have changed their minds, I believe that is what we have to do as a country. The Referendum did not state the manner of doing so and I, along with many of my colleagues who are in a similar position to my own, will seek to get the best protection for Hartlepool that we can guarantee, given the circumstances. A good deal may still not give us what many of us wanted, and it may not be perfect but if it can save jobs, human and workers’ rights and prevent ordinary people from bearing the brunt of the economic aftermath, then it is worth trying to seek one.
If any of you have any doubts, questions or queries, please get in touch with me through my office.