Why I Abstain Today on the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill

I read and consulted widely with political colleagues locally, in Wales and at Westminster before reaching my final conclusion on how to vote on the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill today. The general consensus of opinion is that this is not a good deal – it is not good for Wales, for the economy, for workers rights, for the environment, education or for our industries. It is likely to lead to economic deregulation and further privatisation of our public services.

In addition there has been little time to properly scrutinise the Bill which is being rushed through Parliament thus undermining the very parliamentary sovereignty that we are supposed to be protecting. There has been the usual lack of any consideration for the views of the devolved nations, even though the deal has such negative impacts for us here in Wales.

In the end my decision came down to the fact that I could not square the circle. I could not say with one breath that I would vote “Yes” for such a deal, and then in the next breath wash my hands of any responsibility for the consequences of such a deal for people in my community and throughout Wales and the UK.

I therefore decided that I had to abstain. This is a Tory hard Brexit, and they should be the ones who own this deal, and the consequences of it.

Given the Tory Party majority in the House of Commons, this Bill will pass – it would have done so had all Labour Party MPs abstained. I would not vote against it, because I recognise that even this deal is better than no deal. I will continue to argue in Westminster for Wales to have its proper share of funding, for the people of Wales to have control of the Shared Prosperity Fund, and to stop the erosion of our standards and powers as proposed in the Internal Market Bill.

Our job now as political representatives and as part of the Labour and Trade Union movement is to fight together as hard as we can to safeguard our hard won workers’ rights, to prevent any further sell off of our public services like our NHS, to safeguard our industries and our standards, and where we can, argue to improve on the deal as it stands and mitigate its potential harmful consequences. We must work together to build a fairer future for all.

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