In the December 2019 General Election, I campaigned on a vigorously pro-European platform and one of the chief concerns I encountered on the doorstep was the social and economic impact Brexit will have on our communities in Putney, Roehampton and Southfields and across the UK.
We are now on course to leave the EU but how we leave is still a priority for me. I am deeply concerned by the lack of progress that has been made in negotiations with the EU on our future relationship. The dire economic implications of the coronavirus crisis has further raised the stakes and will make a No Deal crash out all the more devastating.
I have read Best for Britain’s report, “Assessing the economic implications of coronavirus and Brexit” and I am very concerned about the findings.
The report shows that if the UK leaves the EU without a deal in place on 31st December 2020, the manufacturing, banking, finance and insurance sectors would be severely exposed to a double economic hit from Brexit and coronavirus. In such a scenario, it is likely that the Government would need to bring about a stimulus package to support specific industries and parts of the country – a stimulus package that they simply will not be able to afford.
The report places each local authority into five categories of severity in terms of the duel-impact of a No Deal Brexit and Coronavirus, with category one representing the mildest harm and five the most severe.
Wandsworth falls into Category 5.
In Wandsworth, 39% of jobs are in sectors identified as being severely impacted by a No Deal Brexit. The facts are clear – the double-effect of Coronavirus and crashing out of the EU with a No Deal Brexit will be absolutely devastating in our community. We cannot let this happen.
Labour wants the best possible deal for this country. The Tories have said they will still get a deal by the end of the year. It is their responsibility to do that but they have given us little reason for optimism. The first test for them will be the planned summit in this month at which both sides will determine whether “sufficient” progress has been made to secure agreement by December.
Number 10 has rightly focused its energies on fighting the coronavirus but it is of great concern that negotiations have been reduced in scale while negotiators have so far failed to make any significant progress. The Government has a responsibility to protect jobs, protect our food and medical supplies and protect our citizens’ safety and security. Now is not the time to put those things at risk.
I raised this in my maiden speech and back in March, I asked the Government what plans they had to extend the transition period due to the Coronavirus crisis. They made clear that they have no such plans to do so and even the continuing COVD-19 crisis has not changed their minds.
As your MP, you can rest assured I will be doing all I can to stop the Government’s secrecy over trade negotiations and the high risk of accepting more free trade terms in which we will lose out. I have been following the Trade Bill’s progress and also ongoing bi-lateral trade negotiations. I have applied to be on the Bill committee for the Trade Bill as this is where some of the details can be thrashed out and come to light. I assure you that while we may have to reluctantly accept Brexit, but how it happens is very much up for negotiation. The government continues to strip away transparency, but I am doing all I can to push for the highest standards rather than lowest common denominator.
The current Bill means that there will be very little democratic oversight of the negotiations by Parliament. The Trade Bill in its current form will remove several layers of scrutiny that used to exist in the EU model and will leave our Parliament with next to no ability to debate, approve and ratify trade agreements – including a trade agreement with the EU. It simply wrong that I will not be able to represent your views on the future trading relationship when it is going to affect our lives so much.
I will be demanding a proper regulatory framework for negotiations, in which Parliament debates the terms of reference and so we can ensure that the Government does not agree to a watering down of environmental standards and workers rights, and a risk to the NHS from the ‘restructuring of pharmaceutical pricing models’ which is in the Bill.
The fight continues and did not end on January 31st .