Six Labour MPs with North East constituencies which largely voted to leave the EU in the EU referendum two years ago have called for a People’s Vote, warning that their constituencies are set to be among those harmed the most by the current course that the government is taking.
“We now know more about what Brexit will look like,” they write in today’s Northern Echo, saying it is now clear that “our country will be worse off.”
Adding to the parliamentary pressure for the British public to have the final say on whatever deal is struck in a People’s Vote, the Labour MPs say that while respecting the vote in the EU referendum, they also “as North-East Labour MPs, have a responsibility to raise our grave concerns about the future of our region after Brexit.”
The six MP’s explain in their open letter: “Labour’s historic mission is to eradicate poverty, not create it.
“We believe, once the deal is known, people should have the right to think again in a People’s Vote.
“Unlike in 2016, people will know exactly what Leave looks like. We can guarantee it will not be what was promised by the Leave campaign two years ago.”
Their intervention comes as a new report reveals that the North East region will fall further behind the South after a Brexit as plastic and chemical industry are set to suffer.
The UK Powerhouse report produced by law firm Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economics and Business Research warns: “if a divergence in regulation between the UK and EU occurred post-Brexit, it would lead to future disadvantage to the domestic sector due to the lack of synchronisation. Cities such as Newcastle will be highly impacted.”
The MPs’ intervention follows former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s speech today warning that it would be a “travesty of democracy” if there won’t be a second referendum vote as it becomes clear what Brexit will actually entail. Earlier, Shadow Brexit Minister Keir Starmer said that the Labour Party, though of different opinions on Brexit, were united in their position decided in the autumn party conference. Brexit could still be stopped said Starmer, and the Labour Party would call for a referendum on a proposed Brexit if it turned out to be more harmful than their tests based on Government promises and there was no general election.
May has ruled out the public being able to have the final say on the Brexit deal, and insists that Parliament will only get a vote on whether to pass her Brexit deal – opposed by many Brexiters as UK would be bound by EU rules it has no input into – or an economically devastating No Deal Brexit.
“I am confident the majority of parliament would not countenance No Deal,” Starmer told the BBC this morning.
In a major coup for the People’s Vote campaign, a recent YouGov poll of 26,000 voters in all 259 Labour held seats found voters from all parties favour the people having a final say on the eventual Brexit deal.
This included many constituencies where majorities had voted to leave the EU in the referendum.
Today’s North East MPs’ letter was signed by: Phil Wilson, Sedgefield MP. Catherine McKinnell, Newcastle-upon-Tyne MP. Paul Williams, Stockton South MP. Bridget Phillipson, Houghton and Sunderland South MP. Julie Elliott, Sunderland Central MP, and Anna Turley, Redcar MP.
This is the letter in full:
The decision to Leave the EU also has major consequences for the North-East.
A Labour heartland region, but also one that voted for Brexit. We respect that decision. We also believe we, as North-East Labour MPs, have a responsibility to raise our grave concerns about the future of our region after Brexit.
Two years on from the referendum, we now know more about what Brexit will look like. We want to be absolutely clear, after all the evidence we have seen, including the Government’s own economic assessments, whatever the deal the Prime Minister reaches with the EU, our country will be worse off.
The North-East will be hit the hardest.
So we’ve got to think long and hard about the implications for the people we represent.
We did not come into politics to make people poorer. Nor do we believe people voted to leave because they wanted to make themselves poorer. But we also believe that is exactly what will happen.
Our warning is that what will cause Labour the most damage in our heartlands is for the party to fail to warn our supporters that Brexit, in whatever form, will cause irreparable damage and job losses. Labour’s historic mission is to eradicate poverty, not create it.
We believe, once the deal is known, people should have the right to think again in a People’s Vote.
Unlike in 2016, people will know exactly what Leave looks like. We can guarantee it will not be what was promised by the Leave campaign two years ago.
If people still want to Leave after considering the facts, fine.
But surely those who want to change their minds should be allowed to do so. We are not asking for much – just the opportunity for voters to think again.