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View from the House: If Brexit deal is defeated, election is due

PUBLISHED: 12:00 06 December 2018

Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

I often promise Ham&High readers that I will use this column to write about local matters.

However, this week has been of such national importance that I have been left with no choice but to write about Brexit (again!).

Earlier this week, I led historic proceedings against the government for acting in contempt of Parliament. It was not a decision I wanted to take but ministers left me with no other option after refusing to obey an order of Parliament to publish crucial legal advice on the prime minister’s Brexit deal.

It was an important victory that sent a very clear signal: Parliament is taking back control.

Next week MPs will make the most important decision in a generation: whether to vote for or against the proposed Brexit deal.

I believe the prime minister has negotiated a bad deal for this country. The deal she has brought back will not protect jobs and the economy, nor will it provide sufficient guarantees on workplace rights and environmental protections. It is a deal that has been negotiated in the interests of the Conservative Party, not in the interests of the country.

That is why Labour will vote against it on Tuesday.

The truth is the prime minister knows her deal is unlikely to get the backing of Parliament. However, rather than stepping back from the brink and listening to people’s concerns, the prime minister is stubbornly ploughing on regardless as if nothing has changed. It’s not a responsible way to behave and it’s not in the national interest.

The government needs to tell us: what is its Plan B?

If the deal is defeated, then I’m very clear that Parliament should decide what happens next. There should, frankly, be a general election because this would have been a vote of confidence against the government.

If an election cannot be secured then all options must remain on the table, including Labour campaigning for a public vote.

We live in extraordinary political times and I know how frustrated people are that Westminster is locked in this battle over Brexit rather than talking about how we improve our schools, hospitals and tackle crime.

Brexit is likely to dominate politics for the foreseeable future but I do hope to have the chance to write about local issues in my next column.

As ever if you would like to get in touch, do contact me on Keir.starmer.mp@parliament.uk or call my office on ‪020 7219 6234.

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