Labour MPs must vote down this Tory Brexit

Labour MPs at Westminster face a stark choice. The Agreement that has been struck at long last between the UK and the EU27 will come before the House of Commons in the near future and the decision that you take will affect the UK and Labour voters for many years to come.

The agreement that you will be presented with will comprehensively fail to meet the 6 tests that Labour has set out by which the Party’s view will be measured.

Some of the reporting of the deal has suggested provides access to the Customs Union. It does not. It only provides for the status quo during the ‘so called’ transition period and a temporary arrangement thereafter should the Conservative government fail in their objective to negotiate a future trading arrangement. Their objective, as Mrs May has made clear, is to take the UK out of customs union.

The proposed agreement does not at all match what was promised to the British electorate by the Brexiteers. It provides:

  • No extra money for the NHS
  • No improvements in the UK’s trade arrangements
  • No control over EU rules and no seat at the table for the UK

In addition the agreement:

  • Damages UK jobs, manufacturing and services - so the major Unions are opposed.
  • As all the studies show, will hit UK tax revenues and lead to a further pressure on public services
  • As the governments’ own studies show it will hit incomes - the least well off will come off worst
  • Fails to protect UK Citizens in the EU27 and EU Citizens in the UK

In short, the agreement is NOT what people voted for.

We were promised “the exact same benefits we enjoy as members of the EU” - this may have been a rash promise by the Brexiteers, but it was a promise nonetheless. The agreement that is on offer is massively worse - in terms of jobs, trade and individual rights than the position we currently enjoy.

The Government has sought to present this agreement as the only alternative to ‘no deal’. It is not. Not only is there is large majority in the Commons opposed to ‘no deal’ but as Mrs May made clear herself there is the option of “no Brexit”. The not exactly subtle campaign over the last couple of months has been to build support for this terrible deal to avoid the ‘no deal’ for which Parliament will not vote.

Others have suggested that Labour would be unable to re-negotiate a different deal, or that the EU27 would not allow further negotiations. Both assertions are nonsense. First of all a Labour negotiating team would not impose the ludicrous ‘red lines’ of Mrs May’s government that (as we warned) proved insurmountable barriers to the negotiations. Labour would not waste months and months failing to put forward a negotiating position. Labour would seek a customs arrangement that, while not as good as what we have, would protect many jobs longer term as well as many of our existing trade arrangements. Labour would be able to agree arrangements the provided for real continued worker protections and would take seriously the future protection of UK citizens in the EU27.

Of course Labour could negotiate a better agreement - in fact it is hard to seek how we could fail to. As for whether the EU27 would be prepared to negotiate further, it is evidently clear that they would - as they have whenever a change of government in a member state has required it or when circumstances have dictated. Of course they do not want to prolong negotiations that simply seek the same position, but when changes of Government take place in member states they are always given the opportunity to renew discussions. The past behaviour of the EU is more of a guide to what would happen should the potential for re-negotiation arise - for example in the case of the Constitutional Treaty and a number of other situations. What is clear is this Government cant get a better deal because of their self-imposed 'red lines'.

Finally, I believe it was quite right that the UK government commenced negotiations with the EU27 following the advisory referendum. It is a perfectly reasonable for the UK Parliament, which cannot be bound by its predecessors, to take a view on the outcome of those negotiations and take whatever decision it wishes in the best interests of the country - which could include returning the issue to the people. That is entirely consistent with ‘respecting the outcome’ of the 2016 vote. The assertion of the Brexiteers that to return to the public is somehow undemocratic is simply a clumsy attempt to bully, democracy necessarily involves the ability for the public to change its mind.