As you may be aware this promises to be a significant couple of weeks for Brexit in Parliament. Today MPs will begin a five day debate on the Prime Minister’s withdrawal deal before a vote in Parliament on Tuesday 11th December. I will be speaking in the chamber on Monday 10th.
You can read the House of Commons library brief on the process for a “Meaningful Vote” here.
Since my last update the Government and the EU have released a beefed up political declaration. This is the document which outlines the post Brexit relationship between the UK and the EU. You can view the whole document here and at 26 pages it is substantially more accessible than the withdrawal agreement. However, it is important to state that what we will be voting on next week is the “divorce agreement” and this political declaration and NOT a future trade relationship as we were promised. It kicks a lot of the major issues into the long grass and, if you recall from previous updates (all of which are on my website at www.ianmurraymp.com/european-union/) you will know that I have consistently stated that the only way the Prime Minister can get any deal through Parliament is by fudging the big issues.
The political declaration is not legally binding and is full of ambiguous phrases like “the parties will consider” and “the parties should establish”. The Guardian have complied a very useful sector by sector analysis of the declaration which you may also find useful. However, what is obvious from both the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration is that this is a worst of all worlds deal and certainly much worse than the deal we currently have.
In November Parliament voted for the Government to release the legal advice – given by the Attorney General – on the withdrawal agreement. The Government did not even contest this vote. Now the Government and the Attorney General are withholding that legal advice despite being instructed by Parliament.
I asked the Attorney General what advice he had issued his Government and himself on the principle of holding the sovereign House of Commons in contempt. You can watch my question here.
The Government has also released a series of economic impact assessments which make for grim reading. The economy will be smaller under every Brexit eventuality – 3.9% smaller and costing £100bn a year in 15 years under the PM’s deal and 9.3% smaller under a no-deal scenario. These forecasts show the Brexit project for what it is: a gross act of national self-harm. These figures were backed up by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) which you can view here.
THE NIESR concludes:
By 2030, at the end of the first decade outside the EU, this would have the following consequences:
- The UK’s Gross Domestic Product would fall by 3.9 per cent – or £100 billion annually
- GDP per head would fall by 3 per cent a year, amounting to an average cost per person a year of £1,090 at today’s prices.
- Total trade between the UK and the EU would fall by 46 per cent.
- Foreign Direct Investment would fall by 21 per cent.
- Labour productivity would fall by 1.3 per cent.
- Tax revenue would fall by 1.5 – 2 per cent, the equivalent of £18-23 billion less to spend on public services at today’s prices.
The prospects for a no deal are much worse of course. That is why I have signed a cross-party amendment in the name of my colleague, Hilary Benn MP, aimed at preventing a catastrophic no-deal Brexit. We are confident that this amendment has a good chance of passing. The amendment would prevent the Government leaving without a deal and would enable Parliament to “Take Back Control” of the process. In doing so rejecting this worst of all worlds deal and preventing a no deal.
How I will vote
As you may be aware from my last update I will be voting against this deal. This is a much worse deal than what we currently have with the European Union: it will damage our economy, our citizens will have fewer opportunities and living standards will be lower. Simply put, it will make my constituents poorer. This is a deal that nobody voted for.
The reason I say nobody voted for this is that you can do one of two things with Brexit. You either get out of all of the EU economic structures and it’s very painful indeed or you stay in them and it’s not Brexit. So, the question becomes, “What’s the price versus what’s the point?” We have ended up with a high price and no point which is why it has united both remain and leave MPs against the agreement.
- Doesn’t offer frictionless manufacturing trade or supply chains which is a red line for business. Even for manufacturing industry, it means regulatory checks to ensure that goods made in the UK adhere to EU standards with a huge increase in costs and bureaucracy. And it does nothing to protect most of our economy – including the fastest growing services sector on which our future prosperity depends – from a hard Brexit.
- It leaves business bound by rules of the single market but not in the single market. It will leave Britain as a rule-taker for years to come with businesses having to follow European rules and regulations in which the UK government will have had no say because we have lost our seat at the negotiating table.
- It won’t settle the argument at home and a quick negotiation of trade deals is impossible. So this means decades of continued uncertainty and lost investment because our future trading relationship with the EU, not to mention the rest of the world, will still have to be negotiated. All it does it buy time for business to move out of the UK.
- The only people who can settle endless argument and divisions are the people themselves. A new public vote will establish the will of the people on the deal and definitively mandate government one way or the other.
This is the view that has been arrived at by parliamentarians of all parties – who voted Leave and Remain. Indeed, the former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab let the cat out the bag when he admitted the deal he had negotiated was worse than EU membership. This is why the Prime Minister’s deal will almost certainly fail. And it is not, as Mrs May suggests, her deal or no-deal. We learned today from the European Court of Justice’s Advocate General that Article 50 can be unilaterally revoked.
LBJ famously said that the first rule of politics is learning to count and by my reckoning the Government are set to lose this vote by a significant margin. So far over 100 Conservative MPs have pledged to vote against the deal making it all but impossible it can pass, in the first instance at least.
Parliament is clearly broken; the Prime Minister cannot command a majority in the House of Commons and it is very unlikely that any iteration of Brexit can, with the exception of preventing a no deal scenario. That is why we must put this back to the people to give their informed consent on how to progress. We need a People’s Vote.
My view is that there is nothing bad in saying to the public – we understand and respect that you voted to leave the EU but now that we have a measurable conclusion to this process are you happy about the outcome and is this what you ultimately want? That isn’t a second referendum but an affirmation of the first referendum now we can compare. That is democratic and if we are to ask people to be poorer we should seek their views.
78% of my constituents voted to Remain in the European Union in 2016 and I want to hear your views on where we currently are with the Brexit process. This short survey will take only 5 minutes and will help to inform my thinking on the subject.
Thank you to the thousands and thousands of constituents who have already contacted me about this issue. I have received but a handful of correspondence that wants me to support the deal and the rest to reject the deal.