Some time has passed since I last updated you about Brexit.
Events are moving fast on Brexit but I wanted to try and give you an update on where I stand.
According to the Brexit timetable, the UK will be leaving the EU on the 29th March this year, regardless of whether there is a ‘deal’ in place.
If we leave the EU with ‘no deal’ the government’s own figures show that the UK economy would be severely affected, falling 9% over fifteen years.
The ‘deal’ Theresa May offered to Parliament at the beginning of January failed to secure arrangements for keeping the UK close to the customs union or the single market, it failed to provide a satisfactory solution to a new trading relationship, and it failed on the Northern Ireland border.
During the envisaged transition period negotiations on these matters will continue whilst we take whatever rules are imposed on us by the EU in the meantime. Given that we will have already left the EU by this point our negotiating position will be so weak as to be non-existent.
This deal is so poor that I cannot seriously believe that many people, if they had known the outcome, would have voted for it as part of the referendum process. This is why I joined many of my parliamentary colleagues from all parties in rejecting it by a margin of 230 votes – a government defeat larger than any ever seen in the history of this British Parliament.
Regardless of this historic rejection, Theresa May continues to cling to the disastrous ‘red lines’ which made her deal so untenable. She is stubbornly sticking to her failed deal and running down the clock making a no deal Brexit more likely by the day. No Deal Brexit cannot be allowed to happen. It would be disastrous for the people of Southampton and the UK who are already struggling under this Conservative Government.
I have been working with many colleagues also across all parties, to stop this outcome and to press for the negotiation of an alternative deal that really does work in our national interest, but this would require an extension to the time limit for leaving the EU which I am working hard in Parliament to get secured.
After the motion of no confidence in the Government was defeated, ruling out a General Election and a clean slate for negotiations, we are stuck with deadlock and a Prime Minister who is running down the clock to a catastrophic unplanned exit. Theresa May is unable or unwilling to renegotiate putting the UK’s economy and security at risk.
I don’t think that anyone, whether they voted leave or remain supports that kind of outcome.
If neither Parliament nor the government can break the deadlock, then I think there will be no alternative but to put the final decision as to what we do back to the people in the form of a second referendum.
A second referendum will itself need an extension to Article 50, and if the choice at that point is to leave the EU with no deal or stay in and try to reform it from within I will certainly be supporting the option to stay.