The trade and cooperation deal negotiated by Boris Johnson is in no way the success he claims it to be. Instead, it is the thinnest of deals, negotiated at the last minute in order to prevent the calamitous no deal that the Prime Minister was driving us towards. It leaves many industries such as fisheries with poor terms and will mean new non-tariff barriers for exporters to Europe for the first time in nearly fifty years.
Labour would have negotiated a much more comprehensive agreement with our European partners on trade, workers’ rights and environmental standards and it is the Government who must own the consequences of a deal brokered to pacify the demands of hard Brexiteers.
We are now faced with voting today for a deal to which the only possible alternative is no deal. I have listened to those who say that Labour should vote against or abstain today and the arguments for these positions have their merits, being that this deal represents a failure on so many levels.
However, I must vote today to accept the only course of action which will meet our manifesto commitments to prevent no deal and allow the hundreds of local firms in Brightside and Hillsborough to avoid the disaster that this would spell for them. When I was Shadow minister for Steel I spoke regularly to manufacturers who were desperate for a deal to ensure they could trade without tariffs. They feared that no deal could spell the end of steel production in the UK and the relocation of the vehicle and aerospace industries to other European countries. It is ordinary people who will suffer most from the economic shock of no-deal so we must play our part in preventing this.
The next Labour government will transform our relationship with Europe and the world from the Tory vision of a race to the bottom on corporate taxation and standards to one where workers rights and environmental protection are the cornerstones of prosperous new partnerships. In the months and years to come, we will hold this Government to account on everything they have promised their Brexit deal can achieve for our Country.