Friday 8th February

With Theresa May still chasing unicorns across Europe, pretending that she can get the EU & Irish Government to agree a Brexit deal giving no guarantees about freedom of movement between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the threat of a Brexit cliff edge continues to loom closer – with now fewer than 50 days to go.

There is deep frustration in Westminster that the Government are delaying and preventing a firm decision on how to proceed. My hope is that when we vote again on Thursday 14th February the Commons can put a grown-up process in place to get to a decision. If Parliament is still in deadlock, then it’s obvious the whole question must go back to the public in a referendum giving them the final say.

I was disappointed when on Wednesday Jeremy Corbyn wrote to the Prime Minister offering to enable a Brexit deal without a public vote. A ‘customs union’ might offer some protections, in the same way as an airbag might lessen injuries in a car crash. But it doesn’t stop the car crash from happening – and my own view is that Labour should be keeping the option to stay in the EU firmly open.

There is absolutely no such thing as a ‘jobs first Brexit’. Those who facilitate a Brexit in this way will share responsibility for the lost jobs, harm to livelihoods and the consequential fall in tax revenues that will see cuts to our public services.

Labour’s conference policy said by now we’d be pursuing a public vote option, it said ‘full participation in the Single Market’ was a minimum requirement and that MPs should vote against a deal that didn’t secure the ‘exact same benefits’ test set out. Those commitments can’t just be airbrushed away.

I haven’t given up the fight to let the British people think again about Brexit. I hope that all MPs – whether Conservative or Labour or otherwise – will put the country’s best interests ahead of their party political considerations.

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