Sue Hayman MP, Member of Parliament for Workington and Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, speaking following the second reading vote on the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill, said:
“My job is to represent ALL the people of Workington constituency: leavers, remainers, non-voters, pensioners, children, families. I understand people’s frustration at the Tories’ failure to deliver Brexit, but I will not go back on my election promises and vote for a bad Brexit deal just because it’s the best the Tories can come up with. The Withdrawal Bill is simply the exit agreement – the impression being given by the Government that passing the Bill would somehow “get Brexit done” is simply not true.
“Make no mistake – it is Boris Johnson who is frustrating the Brexit process, through his ridiculous decision to pause the Withdrawal Bill just to prevent MPs from being able to give it the detailed scrutiny that it needs. This is because he knows it’s a bad deal.
“Parliament sat last Saturday, and if the Government was actually serious about getting Brexit done by the end of October, Parliament could have sat through this weekend to give the bill the scrutiny it deserves. But instead, Boris Johnson would rather delay Brexit altogether than let us look at the details of his new deal.
“If the Bill had progressed into its committee stage yesterday, MPs would then have had less than 48 hours to properly analyse one of the biggest changes in our constitutional history. This affords no time for adequate scrutiny and no proper timetabling, with no attempt to reach consensus with the Opposition. In contrast, the Wild Animals in Circuses Act, which protects just 19 animals, has been afforded twice the amount of parliamentary scrutiny as our future relationship with our largest trading partner.
“At the 2017 election, I promised to support a Brexit deal that protected jobs, workers’ rights and environmental standards and kept the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union. I also promised I would not support a no-deal Brexit or a bad deal.
“The people of Workington constituency re-elected me on that manifesto, with more votes than all the other candidates put together.
“My position is very clear – I accept the result of the 2016 referendum. I have honoured this vote by voting to trigger Article 50, and as Shadow Environment Secretary, I worked cross-party with the Government to try to improve Theresa May’s deal by beefing up protections for workers rights and environmental protection. Unfortunately, the talks broke down because Ministers were simply not interested in reaching consensus – but over the last three months Boris Johnson’s government has not even bothered to reach out to the Labour Party.
“Johnson’s new Brexit deal would allow a Tory government to slash workers’ rights, environmental standards, and consumer protections, and it would bring in new trade barriers with the EU and additional border checks, which would be disastrous for businesses. This goes against the commitments in the manifesto on which I was elected in 2017.
“I simply cannot vote for a deal that puts the jobs and rights of my constituents at risk, causes more damage to our economy, and leaves ordinary people worse off. Johnson’s deal is even worse for ordinary people than Theresa May’s deal. Even the Brexit Party opposes it. Only the wealthy elite – people like Johnson – will escape the economic effects.
“The Tories have been in Government every day since before the referendum. They have had more than three years to deliver Brexit, and they have failed. Like May, Johnson cannot get his bad deal through Parliament. If he truly believes in it, he should now have the courage to put it to the people in order to break the deadlock and let them decide in a public vote.”