16 January 2019
I wanted to let you have an immediate update on events in the House of Commons this week. Last night I voted against the Government because it has failed to negotiate a good enough Brexit deal. It fails to protect British jobs and business, it fails to guarantee British workers, consumers and environment standards will not be undercut in future and fails to secure terms on trade, security or immigration, leaving future negotiations wide open for a hard-line Tory Prime Minister to pursue an extreme Brexit.
This was the biggest defeat for a Government in Parliament for a century.
It is an historic failure on the Government’s central duty and purpose, to negotiate a good Brexit deal for Britain. And it is not just Theresa May’s failure but the failure of the Conservative Party in Government, a direct result of their deep divisions and dysfunction. I believe this disqualifies them from Office, and in any previous era such a failure to command the confidence and support of Parliament would rightly result in a fresh General Election.
It is clear to people the Conservatives are failing as a government on Brexit – and on every other front from the NHS to real wages to housing. However, David Cameron passed the fixed-term parliament legislation after 2010 to lock himself into government for five years.
So the only way of giving people the Election they deserve, is for Labour to try to force a formal Vote of Confidence in the Commons. We will debate and vote on this later today. I expect people will see the dishonesty of Tory and DUP MPs, who voted down their Government last night, protesting their confidence in that Government tonight – just to protect themselves.
The case for a General Election does not start and end with a single ‘No Confidence’ vote, I expect this case to grow stronger over the coming weeks, especially if the Government chaos continues, the deal is defeated again, Britain is set to crash out with a ‘no deal’ Brexit or more Ministers resign.
The challenges of government are huge, not just to see Brexit through but to bring the country together again and deal with the deep problems people face. Jeremy Corbyn was right in his speech in Wakefield last week when he said:
“Any political leader who wants to bring the country together cannot wish away the votes of 17 million people who wanted to leave, any more than they can ignore the concerns of the 16 million who voted to remain…
“The truth is, the real divide in our country is not between those who voted to Remain in the EU and those who voted to Leave. It is between the many – who do the work, who create the wealth and pay their taxes, and the few – who set the rules, who reap the rewards and so often dodge taxes…
“We will bring people together by addressing the deep-seated and common problems across our country and fulfilling the aspirations that led people to vote both leave or remain.”
This is why people should now have the chance in an Election to change the plan for Brexit and the team in charge.
But in our British system, the ball is still in the Conservatives’ court. They are still in Government, Theresa May is still Prime Minister. In the face of last night’s shattering defeat she still insists she won’t change her deal, she won’t rule out a ‘no deal’ Brexit, she won’t call a general election, she won’t accept a second referendum and she wants to get the Commons to vote again.
In the face of such chaos and uncertain developments, Labour will rightly keep all options open – as our policy at Labour conference guides us to do – to help get Britain through the crisis.
For my part I will continue to keep you informed. And as always, I would very much welcome your views as a constituent, so do get in touch.