We will not be voting for the new withdrawal agreement in Parliament tomorrow.
We believe that, based on the evidence which includes the Government’s own previous impact assessments, any form of Brexit will be bad for the United Kingdom and we believe the matter should be returned to the people – where Brexit began – for a People’s Vote. That confirmatory referendum must take place as soon as possible with a choice between a deliverable deal and remain. And, in that event, we will be campaigning for remain, making the positive case for our continuing membership of the EU.
Boris Johnson’s new “deal” with the EU is arguably worse than Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement. Firstly, the border down the Irish Sea is a very real threat to the Union of the United Kingdom. This is the complex system whereby Northern Ireland is both in the EU Customs Union and a new UK Customs Union, whilst also being subject to many of the benefits of the Single Market. We believe this proposal will not only encourage a united Ireland but it will also strengthen the arguments for an independent Scotland.
Whilst Northern Ireland will retain some of the benefits of our current free trade with the EU, England, Scotland and Wales will have none of those benefits and, in our view, little prospect of any in the future. It was at least clear from Theresa May’s agreement and the accompanying political declaration that a future trade agreement would include regulatory alignment for goods and services and many of the protections we currently enjoy as a member of the EU. However, Johnson’s deal lays the path for a very different future relationship with fewer shared protections and regulations, and not even a back stop of a bare bones customs union. It is our view that, when the transition period finishes next year, our country will find itself without any trade deal. This is why the hard line ERG, who believe in no deal, are so keen to vote for Johnson’s deal tomorrow. As the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on the radio this morning, getting the deal through would mean Brexit is “done and dusted”.
It is very concerning that sensible, moderate, Conservative MPs are set to vote for the deal, believing that their concerns can be addressed and resolved in a future trade treaty. They need to realise what Johnson and his supporters in the ERG are planning for our country’s future.
It is also very concerning that sensible Labour MPs are considering voting with the Government. Again, they are failing to recognise how bad this deal is for their constituents and our country. They may well represent seats with large Leave majorities but so do many others. In Redcar and Sunderland, for example, we have seen courageous Labour MPs lead in their communities, making the case against Brexit and in favour of a People’s Vote.
Turning to a People’s Vote, I hope you will be on tomorrow’s march! TIG for Change supporters are meeting at 11.30am on the stairs of St Martin in the Fields Church opposite the National Gallery off of Trafalgar Square. I am honoured to be speaking for the campaign I helped create.
As you know, we have always believed in a People’s Vote as the right process to take this matter back to the British people for their final say now that we know the reality of Brexit, given the fact that many Leave voters have changed their minds and that so many young people who couldn’t vote in 2016 rightly want a say over their future. We believe that, in the event of Johnson’s new “deal” losing, we can win the vote in Parliament. We first need to defeat the deal (as well as securing an extension). In that event, we have tabled an amendment to the Government’s second motion (which supports a no deal Brexit). If successful, our amendment will secure a People’s Vote but the Government can scupper our plans by refusing to move their motion.
Today, I urge you to email your MP and in turn urge them not to vote for the Government’s deal and to support a People’s Vote.
I hope you can make tomorrow’s march and rally.
Leader of the Independent Group for Change