The Lords Amendments to the EU withdrawal Bill came back to the Commons this month. I have consistently said that our future relationship with the EU must put jobs and the economy first and must therefore maintain the benefits of the Single Market. This is a firm test that I am committed to holding the Government's Brexit deal against in the future when it comes before Parliament for approval. If the Government's Brexit deal does not meet this test I will vote against it.
Unfortunately, two years on from the referendum, it is clear the Government has no plan for how it will protect jobs, standards, rights and the economy. It is for this reason that I voted in favour of the Lords Amendments including Amendment 51 to stay in the EEA. I believe that staying in the EEA will provide the best opportunity for a close future relationship with the EU and further ensure that Brexit does not lead to a race to the bottom on rights or to new barriers for UK businesses. As the frontbench position was to abstain, I have resigned from my role as a Parliamentary Private Secretary. Please see my resignation letter below for my reasons.
I also supported an amendment that would have put the negotiation of a customs union with the EU back on the negotiating table as a key objective and an amendment that would have enshrined in law the commitment to preventing a hard border in Northern Ireland.
Finally, I have long believed that Parliament must be given a meaningful vote on the final terms of our exit from the EU. This is why I voted for a successful Amendment to the Bill in the Commons last December to require that the Government's proposed withdrawal deal be approved by Parliament. This month, I also voted to retain an Amendment made in the House of Lords that strengthens the terms of this meaningful vote. This will make clear that, should the Government's proposed withdrawal deal be defeated, it is for Parliament to say what happens next not the Prime Minister. Unfortunately, this Amendment was not passed.