As a nation, Britain has always been one to respect the rule of law. The international reputation we have is founded on the trust we will keep our word, and that above all else we will respect the rule of law. The Government’s attempts to renege on the Withdrawal Agreement and disregard international law really concerns me.
We live in a world that has been completely changed by the Coronavirus pandemic. Labour has been clear that we need to get a Brexit deal so that we can get on with tackling the COVID crisis that the virus has caused. In December the government was elected with one simple promise – get Brexit done. They told us they had an ‘oven ready’ Brexit deal, ready to go into effect on January 1st 2021. The fact that Boris is now saying that the deal he signed isn’t good enough and that it has significant flaws shows him for what he is, not a great negotiator of deals, but Westminster’s answer to Del Boy!
We are in the middle of one of the worst economic and health emergencies this country has ever faced and it is times like this we need to have a competent government that works with the devolved governments to ensure that our four nations are able to work together and prosper going forward.
Myself and my colleagues in the Labour Party are clear – this is not about Leave versus Remain. That question is settled and we have left the European Union. What this is about is having the integrity to stick to international treaties and obligations, something that leading Brexiteers from the Conservative party agree with us on. Geoffrey Cox, the former Attorney General, has said it is ‘unconscionable” that the government would seek to break the withdrawal agreement.
This is now about our reputation, both at home and abroad. Here at home we have a public that loses trust in the government every single day. That the government are telling us we need to follow the rule of six and are asking people to call out clear breaches of the law is hypocrisy when they’re trying to pass a bill which they know breaks international law. Abroad we are fast losing allies – Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said that the US Congress will not pass any trade agreement with the UK if we do anything to threaten the Good Friday Agreement, which the Northern Ireland Protocol of the Withdrawal agreement protects.
Here in Batley & Spen, we have businesses who need clarity from the government so they can make arrangements for continuing their trade in the European Union.
We need a competent government which respects the rule of law and can rebuild after the coronavirus pandemic, not one which seeks to destroy the union and jeopardise the economy for the sake of a slogan.
I cannot vote for a bill that will permanently damage our international reputation, break international law and potentially break the Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace to Northern Ireland.
There will be a series of votes this week and potentially next week too. I will endeavour to keep you informed about progress and I would love to hear your thoughts on the government’s actions.