Leaving the EU is the biggest issue of our generation and I have received a range of views from the people of Halifax.
As you will already be aware 51.9% of voters nationally voted to Leave the EU in the 2016 referendum with 48.1% voting to Remain. More locally here in Calderdale 55.6% voted to Leave with 44.3% voting to Remain on a 71.1% turnout.
As an elected representative who believes in democracy, I respect the outcome of the referendum and I voted to trigger Article 50 to start the process of leaving the EU. I outlined that I was committed to supporting a deal which worked for Halifax.
At this point, I simply cannot in good conscience say that the Government has negotiated a deal which would be good for the people of Halifax, or indeed the country, and I therefore cannot support it.
The Government’s own analysis suggests that the UK economy would be 3.9% smaller in 15 years’ time if MPs agreed to Theresa May’s deal, impacting on trade, jobs and wages.
Any MP would be failing their constituents if they voted in favour of shrinking the economy and so I cannot sign this deal off. As a Labour MP, this is both my personal position and that of the party.
The same analysis suggests that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the economy would be 6-9% smaller over the next 15 years which is in line with Bank of England forecasts. This would be catastrophic and Labour has also been clear that it cannot support a no-deal Brexit.
With this in mind and recognising the need to move forward, I have been persuaded by the arguments for a confirmatory ballot on the final deal for a number of reasons.
If, with all of this information which was not available at the time of the referendum, voters wanted to vote to leave again, they would have the right to do that. However the stakes are so high, and the views of people across Halifax are so varied that I believe we can only truly go through with Brexit if the British people have a final say on the detail.
I have also been contacted by constituents angry that misinformation was widely circulated ahead of the referendum and will be watching with interest Boris Johnson’s court appearance following the accusation of misconduct in public office made against him for statements he made during the campaign.
Furthermore some of our biggest employers in Halifax including Nestle and the Leo Group have outlined their concerns about Brexit and what it will mean for trade and jobs. Every MP has a responsibility to safeguard jobs in their constituency and so I have thought very carefully about what our local businesses need. You can read their letters here.
You might remember that over 6 million people signed the petition calling for Article 50 to be revoked and for us to remain a member of the EU. Whilst I do not agree that this would help to bring the country back together at this stage, 4,513 people from Halifax signed that petition and have called on me as their MP to respect their views.
You can see that the situation is incredibly complicated and that we all have to live with the implications of this decision for the foreseeable future. This is why I am minded to support a confirmatory vote once the detail is available.
The Conservative leadership election must now be resolved as quickly as possible in order to ensure that the country is moving forward.