Labour and Co-operative Member of
Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

European Union (Withdrawal) Act Debate

by Lloyd on 10.01.19 in Uncategorised
Tags: ,
I prepared a speech, but at 5 pm I decided to scrap much of it because I wanted to express how I and many of my constituents feel. We are hurting, Mr Speaker, and I often feel that I am in a horrid dream—a nightmare that has continued from the moment when I broke down in tears at the referendum count on result night. At that moment I felt—I still feel this now—that something had been stolen from me.
I prepared a speech, but at 5 pm I decided to scrap much of it because I wanted to express how I and many of my constituents feel. We are hurting, Mr Speaker, and I often feel that I am in a horrid dream—a nightmare that has continued from the moment when I broke down in tears at the referendum count on result night. At that moment I felt—I still feel this now—that something had been stolen from me.

Viscerally, something had been taken from me, and not for others to gain from, but to be destroyed and torn up. My rights, my citizenship, my culture—all had been ripped away from me and many of my constituents.

On my way home on that miserable morning, I of course went to my local shop. I chatted to my Spanish friend there, and all that I could say was, “I’m sorry. We have failed you.” We in the remain campaign failed millions of migrants who work here, who live here and who made this place their home, and we have made ​them feel less welcome. But why should our failure—my failure—in the campaign harm them? Why should a failure of 2016 bind our future and mean that we fail forever? There is a principle in democracy that no Parliament may bind future Parliaments. There is a principle that no votes may bind future votes. The ’75 vote did not bind us in 2016, so why now do we say that the tyranny of history should for some reason bind us to a decision that I think was a manifest mistake?

I am against referendums generally. We live in a parliamentary democracy, and I believe that we should avoid them if we can. But once the genie is out of the bottle, the only way of getting it back in—the only way of ending this nightmare—may well end up being, at the end of this long journey, whenever it is, another people’s vote.

Many women in Ireland, after losing the referendum in 1983, immediately started building and working for another referendum to overturn that awful decision. Three referendums later, they manged to do it. There was a vote in Taiwan a few months ago to ban same-sex marriage, which passed, stripping people of their rights and their identity. Do we castigate the women of Ireland for pushing to overturn the will of the Irish? No: we celebrate the role of those women who overturned an historical wrong. Do we tell the LGBT people in Taiwan, “I’m sorry, but you just have to live with the fact that you can’t now marry”? No: we say to them, “Continue fighting and pushing on—democratically, of course—and try to overturn the absolute wrong that has been done to you.” I feel that an absolute wrong has been done to our country—to me.

I believe that there is no good Brexit for Britain. It just does not exist. No Government can produce a good Brexit. Yes, if Labour got in, we would limit and mitigate some of the damage, but even then we could not produce a good Brexit. Brexit is fundamentally linked to a xenophobic, petty nationalist view. That is not to say that those people who voted for Brexit are xenophobic or petty nationalists. When I lived in Yorkshire and we voted, unfortunately, for a British National party MEP and I had BNP councillors up the road from me, I did not say that the voters in those wards were xenophobic and racist. I said that they had made an historic and terrible mistake, and we worked for four and five years to make sure that those people were kicked out. This is a horrible and terrible mistake that was initiated by extremists in UKIP who infected the Tory party. We must now say that that mistake must be undone.

Of course, people are right to say that there are problems with the European Union. It is not perfect. Of course some of the rules on state aid, for example, are problematic. But the deal in front of us enshrines all the same state aid rules without any of the opt-outs and agreements that we could get from the Commission. This deal is far worse for the left than remaining in the European Union. That is why it must be rejected. That is also why we on the left must understand that staying in and reforming is the only feasible option for socialists.

We must also understand that there are some goods in things such as state aid rules. They stop a race to the bottom. For example, the recent European Court of Justice rulings against Ireland and Google mean that there is not some sort of Dutch auction of giving tax breaks and giveaways to multinational companies. We live in a global capitalist world and in a system where ​multinational companies can have more power and clout than many nation states. The only way we can counter that and do things on climate change and other big international global issues is to work together and form a democratic union. My God, the European Union is far more democratic than some things in this country—just look down the road at the other place.

Comments

  • We are a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community.
    Your website offered us with valuable info to work on. You have done an impressive job and our entire community will be thankful to you.

Leave a comment

Labour and Co-operative Member of
Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

Contact Lloyd

Click here

Follow Lloyd