Theresa May’s vacuous statement that ‘Brexit means Brexit’ allowed the Conservative hard Brexiteers to move in and claim the definition for themselves, MP Helen Hayes has told the House of Commons.
Speaking during a Brexit debate the Dulwich and West Norwood Labour MP told the House: In June 2016, my constituents voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union.
The vast majority of them were devastated by the referendum result, and there has been no subsequent reduction in the level of engagement from my constituents on Brexit, nor their palpable distress and concern.
I made a firm commitment to represent the views of my constituents on Brexit, and their views are clear. Overwhelmingly, my constituents do not want the UK to leave the European Union, and I will continue to put that view on record for as long as this process continues.
Although passionate in their beliefs, my constituents also understand the catastrophic risks that a no-deal Brexit presents for our economy and security and are clear that it must not be allowed to happen.
Many have watched closely the approach taken by the Government in their negotiations with the European Union, hoping that they would negotiate thoughtfully in the national interest, intent on bringing together a nation divided by a close referendum result.
They have looked carefully for signs that the Government were working for a Brexit deal that demonstrated that Ministers had listened to and reflected on their concerns—albeit in the wider context of something that they wished was not happening at all.
Two years on, however, it is clear that the Prime Minister has failed catastrophically in her Brexit negotiations. It is also clear that the seeds of that failure were sown at the very beginning in the speech that she made in Downing Street in which she declared that “Brexit means Brexit.”
Brexit was not clearly defined at the time, but that vacuous statement allowed the Conservative hard Brexiteers to move in and claim the definition for themselves.
Soon afterwards, with Prime Minister setting out her red lines, it became clear that the she was allowing the hard Brexiteers to go completely unchecked and to have a role and influence that was grossly disproportionate to the views of the country as a whole.
Instead of establishing a set of principles and objectives for the negotiation that sought to build unity in a country split down the middle by Brexit, and instead of being able to see that this process would have implications for the UK that transcended party politics, the Prime Minister sought only to appease the extremists within her own party who hate the European Union far more than they are concerned about the potentially devastating economic consequences for communities up and down the country of leaving it.
The Prime Minister’s approach to Brexit also failed to acknowledge that the wider global context has changed since the referendum—not least with the election of Donald Trump as President of America.
The reality of a volatile, inconsistent, protectionist US President is a de facto weakening of any hypothetical opportunity to benefit from a new trade deal with the US.
Any trade deal with the US already ran the risk of being a race to the bottom on environmental protections and workers’ rights, but the Trump presidency introduces further risks that could not have been imagined, still less debated, in June 2016.
The importance of our trading relationship with Europe has therefore strengthened, not diminished, over the past two years.
The Prime Minister’s deal is also fundamentally unstable. It is her deal and hers alone.
The Henry VIII powers established by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 allow the Government to make fundamental changes to the legislation that we currently derive from the EU, so there is every risk that the Prime Minister could quickly be replaced by a hard Brexiteer who would undermine the deal by the back door to deliver a much harder Brexit.
I cannot vote for a deal that has such as strong risk of paving the way to an even more damaging hard Brexit. If the Prime Minister’s deal is defeated, she should resign and call a general election.
If Parliament will not vote for a general election, it must allow people the opportunity to vote on whether to accept the Brexit deal on offer or stay in the EU. That is not undemocratic. It is more democratic, and it is the right thing to do.
Business of the House: [3rd Allotted Day] (6 Dec 2018)
Question again proposed,
That this House approves for the purposes of section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, the negotiated withdrawal agreement laid before the House on Monday 26 November 2018 with the title ‘Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community’ and the framework for the future relationship laid before the House on Monday 26 November 2018 with the title ‘Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom’. (Source: TheyWorkForYou)
PRIME MINISTER “ALLOWED HARD BREXITEER TAIL TO WAG THE TORY DOG”
From Prime Minister’s Question Time on November 22nd – Progress on EU negotiations –
Helen Hayes Labour, Dulwich and West Norwood:
The Prime Minister has spent much of the past two years wrangling with her own MPs and allowing the hard Brexiteer tail to wag the Tory dog. The result we now see is a blind Brexit in which 44 per cent of UK trade will be dependent on the fulfilment of a wish list.
Will she now concede that this level of fundamental risk to every nation and region of the UK and every sector of the UK economy is not what anyone voted for in June 2016?
Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party
What people voted for is for us to leave the European Union and to bring control of money, borders and laws back to this country, and we are doing so in a way that protects jobs and livelihoods up and down the country. (Source: TheyWorkForYou)