News & press releases

EU Withdrawal Bill

July 5, 2018

In June 2016, Wales and the UK voted to leave the European Union. The majority of people in Cardiff North voted to remain in the referendum and understand the impact that leaving the EU will have on our jobs, services, environment and wider economy.

It is clear that Theresa May cannot deliver a Brexit that is good for Cardiff North, Wales and the rest of the UK; the negotiations are a shambles and we are quickly running out of time.

Recently, the EU Withdrawal Bill returned to the House of Commons, from weeks of debate from the House of Lords. In the run up to this, I received very high volumes of correspondence from my constituents urging me to vote for particular amendments and enquiring into my voting intentions.

I voted for the Labour amendments on the Customs Union(Amendments 1&2) and on a Meaningful Vote (Amendment 19). Amendments 1&2 on the Customs Union would have forced the Government to update Parliament on how negotiations with the EU are going, in persuading them to let the UK stay in a customs union. Through the Meaningful Vote amendment (19), Labour were hoping to ensure a proper vote in Parliament on the final deal before the Government agrees it with the EU.

In relation to Amendment 51 on the European Economic Area; this amendment aimed to keep the UK in the EEA and our participation within the EU Single Market. The Labour Party’s frontbench team tabled an alternative amendment to Amendment 51 and in doing so were trying to achieve full access to the internal market of the European Union.

However, staying part of the EEA would mean, in effect, remaining part of the single market for both goods and services and economically, we would be staying part of the European economic system and keep our seat at the table. This would guarantee common standards in our industries, as well as workers’ rights, animals’ rights and environmental standards for example. These are the standards that I have been fighting for in Parliament and are everything that Labour has prioritised throughout this process.

Voting in favour of staying part of the EEA was not Labour Party policy and the Labour frontbench position was to abstain on this vote and vote in favour of the new Labour amendment. Due to Parliamentary protocol when breaking a three-line whip, I resigned from my post as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Shadow International Trade and Climate Change Team.

In recent weeks, hundreds of constituents, party members and business owners contacted me urging me to vote in favour of the EEA amendment, passionately voicing their concerns that to not do so would be detrimental to the UK, Wales and Cardiff North. I promised to put the needs of my constituents first and therefore could not in good conscience abstain on a vote I believed to be in their best interests.

There are many other amendments that I supported, including those on the preservation of environmental laws, refugee family reunion rights and limiting the power of ministers to change laws without parliamentary votes and reasserting our commitments to the protection of the Good Friday agreement. I am very disappointed we were not successful in defeating the Government on the Amendments outlined above.

The issue we now face is what we think about the Brexit deal that the Prime Minister brings back to Parliament. The question is will it be the right deal for the people of Wales and the rest of the UK? Will it secure a good future for our young people and will it help protect and grow the number of well-paid, highly-skilled jobs that Wales needs? These questions are why it was so important for Parliament to secure a meaningful vote at the end of the negotiation process with the European Union.

However, this is not about politicians, it’s about the electorate. Safeguarding our democracy is of the utmost importance and the electorate deserves a fair vote. Recently, along with other Welsh MP’s, AM’s and Council leaders, I signed a cross party letter calling for a People’s Vote on the final terms of any Brexit deal. The initial campaign was not based on fact. We were promised that we wouldn’t be worse off, that our funding would continue and that there would be an additional £350m for the NHS. It’s clear that these promises will not be kept. 

I am anxious to ensure a strong and secure future for our children, and achieve long term economic stability and growth. However, the Tory Brexit negotiations are in chaos and we know that we cannot trust them to deliver the best possible deal for Wales. That's why we need to be fully aware of the impact any deal has on us here in Cardiff North. I’m not calling for a second referendum, but for a first referendum on the exit deal. A People’s Vote, in full view of the facts, because we have a right to see the final deal and to have a say on it.

Labour puts jobs, the economy, workers’ and human rights and environmental protections first. Being in the single market and customs union must be the priority to help achieve this. We must fight for a Brexit deal that will deliver a secure future and prevent the Tory Government from recklessly damaging our economy and our communities.

Lords Amendment 3 (environment) and 24 (child refugees)

One of several Lords amendments I supported was put forward by Lord Krebs (amendment 3). This amendment would have ensured that current environmental standards are maintained after we leave the EU. The current proposals outlined in the consultation by Defra do not go far enough and I am very disappointed that the amendment from Lord Kerbs was rejected by the Commons.

Another Lords amendment was submitted by Lord Dubs (amendment 24), that sought to ensure child refugees have the ability to join their relatives in the UK after we leave the EU. After coming under significant pressure, the government did accept his amendment, but not entirely, and their modifications mean that child refugees cannot join siblings under the age of eighteen. This change is against current EU regulations and I and my Labour colleagues will continue to put pressure on the government to reverse this decision.