I believe Brexit would be an economic, political and cultural disaster for the UK. I campaigned strongly for Remain in the 2016 Referendum and I have been horrified by the Government’s handling of the issue since that time, culminating in the ‘deal’ announced by the Prime Minister this week, which would leave this country poorer, more isolated and with less influence in the world.
I voted against triggering Article 50 because I thought the refusal to give either Parliament or the people the final say on Brexit was undemocratic, and I have consistently supported a People’s Vote in Parliament and at the marches and rallies held recently in London.
I am proud to represent one of the most diverse communities in the UK. Our borough has the third largest proportion of EU nationals of any in the country, and it is one of the most pro-Remain areas. The Labour Council, re-elected on a huge swing in May, was the first to come out in favour of a People’s Vote.
It has taken over two years for Theresa May’s Government to produce a ‘Withdrawal Agreement’, which is only the first step in the Brexit process. It says nothing about our future relationship with Europe but is a clumsy and destructive attempt to sever the economic and political ties that have been built up over the past 40 years.
But this Agreement does not have the support of May’s Cabinet, her Party, Parliament or the public. It is already irrelevant, and if put to a vote in the House of Commons will be firmly rejected. I will of course vote against the ‘deal’.
By trying to square the anti-Europeans on the right of the Conservative Party with more moderate voices, who see the danger of creating borders with our main trading partners and risking peace in Ireland, May has pleased neither. In an attempt to blackmail MPs into supporting her deal, she holds out the chaos of No Deal as the only alternative.
This is a false choice. The Prime Minister cares more about the future of the Conservative Party than of the country. She knows, as a Remain voter herself, that Brexit is the wrong choice, and that even if the UK left the European Union we would minimise the damage to our economy by staying in the customs union and the single market. But all she offers is a fudge which signs up to some EU rules on a uncertain basis and without any say over how those rules are made.
It is right that she now steps down and after such abject failure in the most serious political crisis since 1945 and without a majority in Parliament, the honourable course is to call a General Election.
In the absence of this it is up to the present Parliament to vote down her deal and vote down No Deal. At this point, which will come within the next few weeks, the only and right option is to give the public the final say on Brexit in a People’s Vote, in which the choice includes staying in the EU.
I believe we have a much better informed and motivated electorate on this issue than in 2016. If the vote is for Brexit once again, we must accept that. But I do not think the majority of the British people will be tricked again as they were by the false promises of the Brexiters and the false accounting of their campaigns.