Labour MPs backing Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal will inflict pain on the most vulnerable in society – the very people they were elected to protect.
Everything the Labour Party treasures and values is at risk from this reckless right-wing deal. The new nasty party has little to lose from a no-deal Brexit. In fact, the 1% have a lot to gain: creating a bargain-basement Britain only lines their pockets and furthers their agenda.
An incoming recession where everything is up for grabs to the biggest buyer gives them the opportunity to monopolize, and cuts to workers’ rights mean they can discriminate at their demand. Labour’s agenda and the people they represent are set to go back decades if Boris’s deal passes through parliament.
While Labour MPs are under pressure this week, it’s nothing they haven’t seen before. Since 2016, Brexit has torn apart friendships, families, and parties. The issue is one of the most divisive in British history. But cool heads must prevail.
A few weeks ago the Labour conference set out our position: any deal must go back to the people so they can have the final say. Britain doesn’t deserve Boris’s Brexit. He’s lied to the Queen, the DUP, to the people of London and to the people of his constituency in Uxbridge. With such a bad track record, why would he not lie to Labour MPs to encourage them to vote for the deal?
Let’s be clear. The deal Johnson has brought to parliament is worse than May’s deal – far, far worse. The government’s own estimates about the effects of a free trade deal with Europe, very similar to Johnson’s, predicts that the UK would lose £130bn in growth, cutting 6.3% of GDP and would end up making the average person poorer by £2,250 a year – through the poorest and most vulnerable would inevitably be hit the hardest.
Given how dire the consequences are, it would be reasonable to expect this deal to at least fulfil the mandate of the referendum. But it doesn’t – in fact, it doesn’t fulfil a single one of the promises made by the Leave campaign in 2016. The European Communities Act ensures EU law still applies in the transition period. There are also real concerns about MPs having a say, both immediately after this deal is passed and throughout the transition period. It mentions nothing about extra money for our NHS. So much for taking back control.
This week the Brexit secretary admitted (after being updated mid-committee hearing) that additional paperwork would be required for Northern Irish firms sending goods to Great Britain. This will not only damage business on both sides of the border but also jobs, families and communities for years to come. The effects of this damage are unthinkable. An unstable Northern Ireland without effective local governance will be disastrous for peace and prosperity in the region.
When historians look back on this critical moment in British politics and examine how Brexit was finally implemented, the story won’t be about how the DUP voted, or how the Independent Conservatives voted – it will be about the handful of Labour MPs who handed Boris Johnson a blank cheque, for him to fill in as he pleased.
This will be their legacy. They will carry it with them. And the most vulnerable in our society, the people these MPs were elected to protect, will face the consequences.
– Cathleen Clarke is a life-long Labour Party member, a Momentum activist, and a supporter of the Our Future Our Choice movement.