Last year, I campaigned for the UK to remain a member of the European Union but as we know, the nation chose to leave. Below are some of the questions I’ve been asked on the subject and my responses to them…
67% of Tower Hamlets voted to Remain, why did you back Brexit?
I have been asked by some constituents why I didn’t ‘abide by the outcome’ locally. The referendum was a national issue in which everyone had an equal vote. I feel there is a principle here, in terms of respecting and abiding by the result and believe it is simply wrong to try to overturn the democratically achieved outcome. If Remain had won the vote, we all would have expected the result to have been honoured.
I’d also ask you to consider that if the decision had gone the other way- how would you feel if those who’d voted Leave, after having lost the referendum then tried to override the result?
This was not an easy decision for me to make and I understand not everyone is in line with my thinking. Since the vote I have advocated and supported an exit strategy that is as fair, reasonable and tenable as possible.
But the referendum was only advisory!
No one was promised an advisory referendum, with the final decision being left to Parliament. Everyone went into the referendum believing the result would be binding.
What did Labour do during the debate on Brexit?
The Labour Party brought forward and argued in favour of several amendments over the course of the debate on the Brexit Bill. We continually called for a meaningful vote on the final terms of the deal in Parliament and repeatedly emphasised that EU citizens should not be used as bargaining chips. Despite our efforts, all amendments were voted down by the Government.
When the Bill made its way to the House of Lords, Labour Peers voted against the Government on both these issues but on its return to the Commons, the amendments were again voted down. The Prime Minister and David Davis made it clear during the debate that there was no amendment, however re-worded they were willing to accept in the Bill.
In the end, it was pressure from Labour that forced the Government to concede and guarantee that Parliament will have a vote on both the withdrawal arrangements and future relationship with the EU.
How will Labour fight to ensure a fair Brexit for all?
Labour wants an outward-looking UK and opposes Theresa May’s attitude to Brexit. The Labour Party have promised that if we win the General Election we’ll offer a unilateral guarantee to EU nationals living in the UK that they can stay.
We’ll also ensure that Parliament has its say and if it were to reject our deal, we’d return to negotiations.
Labour’s alternative approach would leave decisions like access to the single market and the customs union on the table and will protect the rights of workers, the environment and consumers. Our plan would be to rebuild the economy by investing in infrastructure, skills, new technology and the green industries.
Isn’t this General Election all about Brexit?
No, absolutely not. The Tories will focus solely on Brexit in the coming weeks but this election is about far, far more than that. Living standards are falling, wages have stagnated, local council budgets are being slashed, child poverty is on the rise, social care is in crisis, school budgets are being cut and our NHS is in deep trouble. Never a day goes by without a constituent raising their concerns.
A vote for Labour on 8 June will mean a chance to address all the above. Poplar and Limehouse cannot afford another five years of the Tories and neither can the country.