This week the Prime Minister triggered Article 50 and started the negotiations for the UK’s exit from the EU in just two years’ time. In her speech she outlined to the House of Commons her intentions during the negotiation period but revealed just how badly they are underestimating the complexity of the task ahead of them. Her focus on an extreme brexit is causing divisions in her own government and throughout the UK.
The PM’s speech in Parliament raised more questions than it answered. She said that she would try to guarantee the UK’s access to the Single Market but then admitted that her party’s insistence on an extreme form of exit means that this won't happen. With no plan B, the future of our economy is at best uncertain and this threatens to put the jobs and services of people in Garston and Halewood at serious risk. We have already seen the disproportionate damage that seven years of Lib Dem and Tory austerity has caused in Liverpool and Knowsley. Leaving the single market without an alternative in place will hit jobs, businesses and our economy hard.
Government ministers are being secretive about their plans. I recently tabled parliamentary questions for each Government Department asking them which EU agencies are essential to their work and what they planned to do to maintain our relationships with them following our exit from the EU. Every department and minister refused to provide an acceptable response, with the vast majority claiming that it would be inappropriate to answer my question at all.
Leaving the EU also means leaving behind EU laws and protections. At the moment, EU legislation forms a large part of our law. Replacing these laws will be a complex, lengthy task if it is possible at all. The Government’s answer to this is to give ministers the power to change and repeal laws with no parliamentary scrutiny using what are called Henry VIII powers. It is completely unacceptable for any government to give themselves such sweeping powers. If this goes ahead the Tories will be able to reduce workers rights, environmental protections and regulations on big business at a whim.
The Government’s plan is clearly to keep MPs and their constituents in the dark to hide the chaos at the heart of their plans for exiting the EU over the next two years. That is, if they actually have a plan at all. For a task with such far-reaching, potentially damaging consequences, this dishonest approach is extremely concerning. My Labour colleagues and I will fight against these plans for an extreme brexit.