My EU update sent to constituents on 11/07/2019:
Labour’s Brexit position
As you will be aware I have been consistent in my position that any form of Brexit will damage the UK. As such, I am a founding member of the People’s Vote campaign through my senior role within Open Britain and Best for Britain. I have been championing for the public to have the final say since I helped launch the campaign back in April 2018.
With colleagues, I have spent a great deal of time arguing from within the Labour Party for some time to move the leadership of the parties in Scotland and the UK to adopt a more unambiguously remain position. With Labour losing four times as many votes to remain parties as to leave parties at the EU elections we had to move to a policy which is supported by an overwhelming majority of party members and supporters. I was pleased to see the Scottish Labour Party changed its policy after the EU elections to a confirmatory vote and will campaign for the UK to remain in the EU.
The positive news is that we are still in the EU and that has taken a Herculean amount of work cross party to make that happen.
You can watch my Sunday Politics interview on the issue here.
I am delighted that the UK Labour Party has announced a change in policy following consultation with the shadow cabinet, MPs, affiliated unions and the party’s national executive committee. The Labour Party is now committed to a public vote on any deal or no deal pursued by any government. Although I am disappointed it has taken us so long to get to this position the change in policy is fantastic news.
Despite the ambiguity on whether the Party would campaign for leave or remain in the event that Labour won a general election and negotiated a new deal, I am still pleased with the progress made. In whatever circumstance Labour will support a public vote with the option to remain.
You can read the full letter Jeremy Corbyn sent to members here.
Ruling out no deal – Grieve Amendments
The Northern Ireland Bill currently being debated in Parliament is designed to extend the time required for a devolved executive to be set up in Stormont. It is a function of the continued lack of devolved Government in Northern Ireland. You may be aware that MPs had tabled several amendments to the bill, including some which relate to Brexit.
Dominic Grieve’s amendments were designed to prevent the parliamentary session being prorogued, or abruptly ended, in the lead-up to the 31 October EU departure date. This was raised by the Conservative leadership candidates as an option.
In a series of amendments Dominic Grieve MP attempted to make changes to the frequency that the Government reports on Northern Ireland’s formation of an executive, which has been vacant since 2017. This would mean parliament could not be suspended during this period.
I have provided a brief explanation of the amendments below:
Amendment 14 – This amendment would bring forward the date for a progress report to 4 September 2019.
Amendment 15 – This amendment would require fortnightly reports to be made after the conference recess until an Executive was formed, or until the December recess.
Amendment 16 – This is a consequential amendment (based on changes to the initial clause)
Amendment 17 – This amendment would require progress reports to be debated.
NC14 – This provision is similar to section 28 of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and would ensure that Parliament was recalled if regulations were made under section 2 of the Act or a report was laid under section 3 of this Act.
There was huge cross-party support for the amendments which I also signed. Unfortunately, the speaker did not select NC14 as the Speaker ruled it was beyond the scope of the Bill.
The government accepted one of Grieve’s amendments (Amdt 14), was forced to accept another (Amdt 15 – we defeated the government by one vote) and was able to resist another (Amdt 16 and 17) – as a result, the government will have to provide frequent updates on the progress to restore power-sharing at Stormont, but it has no explicit legal obligation to keep Parliament sitting to do this. Although if a Prime Minister Johnson does try to prorogue Parliament to take the UK out without a deal we can expect this to be challenged in court.
There is a chance that the House of Lords will add Dominic Grieve’s amendment onto the Bill when it goes to the Lords. The challenge at that point would be to build a majority of MPs to support it. As the votes showed last night the numbers are very tight.
I am completely opposed to the prorogation of Parliament to pursue a no deal Brexit and will continue to vote in any way which makes this more difficult.
There has been little officially happening in Parliament over the last couple of months as the Government find a new PM. The two remaining candidates are all banging the drum for a hard or no deal Brexit. They are talking to a very narrow selectorate to try and win the contest. I genuinely don’t believe that any new Prime Minister will pursue a no deal, but I can assure you we are doing all we can on a cross party basis to prevent this from happening.
I continue to assist local residents and businesses on the issue of Brexit and will keep you updated as the issue progresses.