The Brexit deal signed on Christmas eve by the PM is the bare minimum necessary to ameliorate the widespread chaos of a No Deal despite the fact that disruption in the flow of trade goods is still likely on January 1st whether the deal is passed or not due to the reintroduction of customs and import/export arrangements for trade in goods.
It is not the deal that the Government promised and upon which they won an 80 seat majority at the General Election a year ago and it is very far from constituting “The exact same benefits” promised to the nation by Vote Leave campaigners such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove during the referendum in 2016.
However, the UK left the EU a year ago now and this is not a vote about whether we should be inside or outside the EU, it is about the terms upon which businesses, exporter, importers and consumers should be able to trade with EU member states and their businesses in less than a week’s time. It is disgraceful that the Government has cynically left announcing the terms of the deal so very, very late and that they are allowing Parliament only one day to discuss it and vote on it. Our sister Social Democratic Parties are all supporting it as the best available given the constraints imposed by the UK Government and the reality is that we will need a change in UK Government to improve it substantially.
Labour MPs have been asked by the Shadow Cabinet to support it in these circumstances to enable the UK to move on and I have decided to do so, somewhat reluctantly because there is no ideal solution to this mess.
Some of my colleagues will choose to vote differently and I think that there are arguments for voting for, voting against and even abstaining many which are compelling. However, I have decided that supporting the Shadow Cabinet decision is probably the best thing to do in the circumstances because we have now left the EU and voting against this deal will not change that fact.
The responsibility for this deal rests with the Government and Labour must be at the forefront of holding the Government to account over any and all of its negative consequences. Only a change in Government in due course will change the real terms of trade in our relationship with our European neighbours.