Why I voted in favour of the European Parliament Resolution on Brexit
Labour MEPs voted in favour of the European Parliament’s recent resolution on the Brexit negotiations, as it is clear that urgent progress is required if there is to be any hope of reaching a deal between the UK and the EU before the end of March 2019. The European Parliament does not take part in the negotiations themselves, but it will need to adopt or veto the final outcome.
The resolution reiterated that there is a need for clarity from the UK government on crucial issues, such as citizens’ rights, peace and an open border in Ireland, and the financial settlement (or divorce bill). This is not just in the interest of the EU27; having clarity and coming to agreement on these issues is of the utmost urgent importance for all British people, regardless of how they voted in the referendum.
Together with my fellow Labour MEPs, I abstained on the clause in the resolution that called for a postponement of the second phase of the negotiation, in recognition of the fact that we all want the negotiations to proceed as quickly and effectively as possible.
The only way for the negotiations to proceed is for agreement to be found on the key outstanding issues. As democratically elected representatives of the British people in the EU, it is our job to represent and defend our constituents’ interests. We have a duty and obligation to hold the UK government to account on its failures.
The UK government and the EU must both guarantee and safeguard all the rights of non-British EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU and remove the unacceptable levels of uncertainty and anxiety people are experiencing. The UK government must safeguard the Good Friday Agreement and maintain peace and open borders in Ireland, and it must pay its financial obligations to the EU to ensure future access to the Single Market and EU programmes, as well as maintain our status in the world as a law-abiding country.
The Tory government should have had a clear strategy for reaching agreement on these key issues in a timely manner, before they ever triggered Article 50. Now, with May’s reckless triggering of Article 50 with no plan, and then the squandering of time and resources on a snap election, the government has failed at making progress on the negotiations, putting the UK at risk of economic and social chaos.
I will continue to fight to protect the rights of citizens throughout the Brexit process, and to prevent or at least minimise the damage that Brexit is doing to the people of the UK, and especially to the future prospects of young people.