View from the house: Brexit in ‘chaos’ with deadline looming

PUBLISHED: 08:00 02 June 2018

PA Wire/PA Images

With only a matter of months until the deadline for an agreement on a future trade deal with the EU, the government’s plans are in total chaos.

Far from securing the “easiest deal in human history” as predicted by International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, the cabinet can’t even agree a basic position on their desired future customs arrangement.

Worse still, their divisions are being played out in public, with competing factions briefing the media on their latest disagreements in the hope that it will force the prime minister’s hand.

I would say that the government’s amateurish approach to these negotiations risk turning Britain into an international laughing stock, but the stakes are far too high for anyone to be laughing.

My position on our future customs arrangement, and indeed the Brexit process as a whole, has been clear and unambiguous from the very beginning.

I believe that in order to protect EU citizens’ rights, to safeguard local jobs and to ensure an immigration system that is fair and economically beneficial, Britain must remain members of the Single Market and Customs Union.

Some have dismissed this as a rejection of the democratic outcome of the 2016 Referendum, but I am firmly of the view that nobody in Hampstead and Kilburn voted to downgrade our economy, nor to sacrifice hard-fought employment rights at the altar of a vague ideological pursuit.

The EU is clearly not without its fault. A cursory glance at the crises in Greece, Spain and Italy over the past few years speak profoundly to those flaws.

There is a democratic deficit within the EU that is unacceptable, and must be the focus of urgent reform. However, it is surely beyond doubt that Britain’s bespoke trading arrangement with the EU has provided a net benefit to our economy, and that given the stakes, the British people may have marginally voted to leave but did not vote to turn our economy upside down.

This is why I welcome the overdue return of the EU Withdrawal Bill to Parliament and the vote on an amendment for Britain to stay in the European Economic Area (EEA).

With the Cabinet divided on two outcomes that the EU has already said would be rejected, it is high time Members of Parliament stepped up and voted for a plan that would ensure stability for businesses, protected local jobs, and prevent the surge in household costs that we have seen over the past two years.

With the Governor of the Bank of England clear that the Brexit vote has already cost each UK household £900, it should be the duty of any responsible government to choose a course that would limit any future damage.

I, therefore, hope that the EEA amendment will command cross-party support and force the government to reconsider their current trajectory of a Hard Brexit – which would have a terrible impact on the lives of those who elected us.

I will be voting in favour of the amendment and for a future that does not limit opportunities of our younger generations.

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