An update from the House of CommonsJanuary 2019: Your Local MP
An update from the House of Commons
This month, leaving the European Union has been almost the only topic of debate in the House of Commons. It also comes up frequently on the doorsteps when I’m out and about in Bristol West.Things are changing quickly. By the time you read this article we could have a new Prime Minister or the government could be lurching in a whole new direction. But I hope you find this useful for understanding the current situation and my role in Parliament at this critical time.
In December the Prime Minister delayed the vote on the EU Withdrawal Agreement because realised she was sure to lose by a huge margin. We don’t know when it is coming back to Parliament and time is running out.
I am challenging government ministers on this at every opportunity, including Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom, Brexit Secretary of State Stephen Barclay and Theresa May herself. Unfortunately they only give me the line that they will bring it back “by 21 January.” This would potentially leave just 67 days until the leaving date. These delaying tactics raise the likelihood of ‘no deal,’ trying to force MPs to back the Withdrawal Agreement.
As it stands, this agreement leaves us with no clear idea of what relationship we will have with our closest neighbours.
This uncertainty has real and damaging effects. The pound recently fell to its lowest level in almost two years. And for citizens of EU countries living in the UK, it is making them feel more insecure and unwelcome, pushing them towards finding a future elsewhere.
So what next? As I write, the Prime Minister is desperately trying to find some reassurance from the EU that the controversial ‘backstop’ can be changed. Unfortunately, this looks very unlikely, even by her own reckoning. Less than a week ago, she was insisting this is the only deal available.
This can feel like a disappointing time to be a Member of Parliament, but we have also celebrated several victories recently.
If MPs finally do vote down the Withdrawal Agreement, they will then have a say on the next steps. This is because Labour successfully brought together MPs of all parties to vote against this on 4 December. This came quickly after Labour successfully voted to find the government in contempt of Parliament, which has never happened before.
This felt like a personal victory for me as an opposition whip, after many days and long nights working behind the scenes to ensure MPs voted against the government.
I will try to keep you all updated on my blog, Facebook and Twitter. Many of you have written to me asking me to stop this shambolic government’s disastrous approach to Brexit. I agree, but I cannot do this alone. I believe finding a way out of this mess it will take all of us, speaking and listening to each other and trying to find common ground.
I wish you all a restful Christmas break. And I hope we all enjoy more positive politics in 2019!