Tonight MPs voted again a series of options to break the Brexit deadlock. Luke Pollard MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport has issued the following statement on this second set of indicative votes.
HOW I VOTED ON THE BREXIT OPTIONS
Tonight, MPs are voting again on a series of options to narrow down the options and break the Brexit deadlock in Parliament. I am writing to you to update you on how I voted.
As I said to you last week, Brexit is a mess. It is taking longer than we were promised it would and it is costing more and is more complicated than we were told it would be in the referendum. It is also closing off opportunities for our young people. We are running out of time to stop a crash out no-deal on 12 April. The Prime Minister’s deal has been rejected three times. She refuses to call a general election. There are mass protests in the streets and Parliament is deadlocked. The Government is falling apart in front of our eyes, and I am very concerned that really important issues like the NHS crisis, the housing crisis, rising poverty and problems in our schools are being masked by the Brexit crisis. I voted for all four of the motions tonight as I believe these are in Plymouth’s best interests.
I again once supported a customs union in any Brexit deal reached with the EU and voted for Motion C. This is part of Labour’s Brexit plan and we would seek to negotiate a new comprehensive UK-EU customs union to ensure that there are no tariffs with Europe, to support our manufacturing industry and to help avoid any need for a hard border in Northern Ireland. It is necessary to avoid queues at the border and additional costs for businesses. This option came the closest to a majority last week with 264 MPs voting in favour and 272 voting against and there’s a chance it could command a majority tonight.
I voted in favour of motion D for the Common Market 2.0 proposal sometimes referred to as Norway Plus. This keeps us out of the EU’s political institutions but in its economic systems. This is a soft Brexit and would help preserve jobs in our economy. While there are merits to this option it is not my preferred outcome. I worry we would still be locked into EU institutions like the single market, paying money to Europe but giving up our seat at the table to decide the rules. But I said MPs have to compromise and that includes me. So, I backed this amendment as I think a softer Brexit is in all our interests and this model has some merits that are worth exploring. It was defeated 188 to 283 last week. However, today Labour is encouraging its MPs to vote for this option as a compromise.
CONFIRMATORY PUBLIC VOTE
Motion E is my preferred option known as the Kyle-Wilson Amendment which says that any withdrawal agreement should be ratified by the British people. In our Parliamentary system if Parliament cannot agree a way ahead then the decision is normally put back to the people via a General Election. But the Prime Minister and the Conservative Government are clinging onto power at all costs and so an election is not available. In such circumstances, the only way to break the deadlock is to put any deal agreed to the public via a ratification referendum.
I know there are people who will agree and those who will disagree with my view. That is what happens in a democracy, but I want you to know that I have not taken this decision lightly. I have listened carefully to the views of those people I represent, from all political traditions and perspectives.
I worry that Brexit is dominating the political agenda and issues that affect people every day are being overlooked by a Government that is divided and weak. Britain faces huge challenges with our NHS in crisis, housing more unaffordable for many and poverty and suffering being caused by Universal Credit. We need a way out of this mess and if MPs can’t find one in the Commons then the people must decide. You deserve the final say. Last week this motion gained the most votes of any and I believe we will get more votes in favour of this motion tonight.
PARLIAMENTARY SUPREMACY (REVOKE ARTICLE 50)
In 2016 the Leave campaign promised voters that we would leave with a deal. In 2017 I was elected on a manifesto that opposed no deal and since then I have read reports that show that places like Plymouth would be hardest hit by leaving the EU without a deal. I will not vote for a no deal option.
Motion G would seek an extension to the Brexit process and if this is not possible then Parliament will choose between either no-deal or revoking Article 50. An inquiry would follow to assess the future relationship likely to be acceptable to Brussels and have majority support in the UK. I voted for this because we must avoid a no deal exit at all costs. A no-deal Brexit will seriously harm Plymouth leading to job losses and disruption of food and medicine supplies and this is an emergency brake to avoid that.
I have not made these decisions lightly. They are the result of speaking to you in Plymouth over nine open public meetings on Brexit attended by over 1,100 people. From my weekly #AskLuke Facebook lives, monthly #MeetLuke open public meetings and my post bag I know many of the people I represent are deeply worried about Brexit’s impact on our city and our country. I am too. I know that Plymouth has a wide range of views about Brexit and people are changing their minds all the time. We cannot go on like this and we need to break the deadlock. There is no silver bullet on Brexit and no scenario that keeps everyone happy. That’s why MPs are narrowing down the options and discarding those which don’t carry support in Westminster.
I am grateful to everyone who is sharing their views with me whether those are more leave or more remain. I am here to represent your views and none of the decisions Parliament is taking are easy. I will continue to hold open public meetings and will continue to keep you updated about Brexit.
Luke Pollard MP
Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport