On Monday I was supposed to give my speech on the Prime Minister’s withdrawal deal. For the previous three days colleagues on all sides of the House have been debating this landmark piece of legislation with a view to casting a vote on Tuesday. However, after weeks of saying it is ‘my deal or no deal’ the Prime Minister has pulled the vote on the withdrawal deal and gone back to Europe to try and renegotiate something that she claimed was non-negotiable. When the Prime Minister made a statement I asked her if her deal was, as she has been saying for weeks, ‘non-negotiable’. You can watch my question here.
We now know this may have been all planned in advance. Whilst Ministers were on TV saying the vote was ‘definitely going ahead’ the Prime Minister was on phone to Donald Tusk whilst leaking plans to cancel the vote to the press.
This is a chaotic way to run Government and an insult to you and all my constituents who have been denied a say in this vital debate. Indeed, I raised this with the Leader of the House during her statement in the commons and asked her to personally apologise to you. You can watch here.
You can also watch speaker Bercow’s response to the Government’s delay here.
In view of the Government’s incompetence I have also written to Jeremy Corbyn asking him to table a motion of no confidence in this Government. If we cannot force a general election it is my view that the Labour Party should move to supporting a People’s Vote, as per our policy agreed at Labour Party conference.
You can read my letter to Jeremy Corbyn here.
The Conservative Party has now taken matters into its own hands. 48 MP (15% of the Parliamentary party) have submitted letters of no confidence (in the PM) to the Party Chairman. This has triggered a vote of no confidence in her leadership of the Conservative Party. The PM requires a simple majority of Conservative MPs to retain control of the party and remain as Prime Minister. If she loses we will then be faced with a Conservative Party leadership contest which she will not be allowed to stand in. This is the ultimate act of self-indulgence in the face of this national crisis.
Whatever happens, whether May continues, or we have a new Prime Minister, the deal with the EU and the Parliamentary arithmetic will not change. A change of Prime Minister is irrelevant in the context of Brexit. The only way to resolve this impasse remains to put this back to the public in a People’s Vote.
What happens next?
The EU Withdrawal Bill states that the Government are now required to provide a ‘meaningful vote’ by 21st January. The Government have confirmed its intention to do this but I and many colleagues are worried at this approach. The closer we get to Brexit day on 29th March the likelier it is that the Government can hold a gun to Parliament’s head and say it’s this deal or a chaotic no deal Brexit. At that point, so late in the day, it becomes more difficult to hold a second referendum and no deal becomes the default.
On Tuesday Yvette Cooper held an Emergency Debate in Parliament on the Government’s handling of the meaningful vote. You can watch the debate here. In short the concerns centred on worries that the Government may attempt to subvert the House by not bringing a meaningful vote to Parliament before the 21st whilst also not allowing a vote on no deal. Leaving Parliament in limbo and causing a constitutional crisis. This has come about because the Government has lost the trust of MPs on all sides of the House. Time and time again the Government has used tricks and acted in bad faith simply to avoid democratic scrutiny and kick the can down the road.
You can watch my question in the debate here.
The Prime Minister is now traipsing around European capitals to try to appease the DUP and the hard-right wing of her party over the backstop. The EU have thus far been explicit in saying that they will discuss and offer reassurances but they will not reopen negotiations. It is therefore extremely likely that if she survives the confidence vote, the Prime Minister’s deal will reappear virtually unchanged. It is also the case that in the unlikely event that she was able to get alterations to the legal text, the Brexiteers in her own party would not be placated.
The Prime Minister is simply playing for time, at such a crucial moment for our country this kind of self-preservation is not acceptable. We also can’t be presented with an 11th hour “I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse”, with the threat of no deal.
I am pressing very hard to get this meaningful vote next week before Parliament breaks up for the Christmas recess.
Finally, as part of my ongoing consultation with constituents I have recently published the results of my Brexit Survey. The results were conclusive. Out of over 600 people, 95% object to the PMs deal. I have also received thousands of pieces of correspondence on this issue and the overwhelming majority are to vote down the deal and for a People’s Vote. I do, however, appreciate that people voted to leave in the constituency (22%) and I have been listening and engaging with these views. That is the right thing to do and we all must be respectful of all views but let me state again, I will not support anything that makes my constituents poorer.
You can view the results in full here.