During the 2016 referendum campaign, I campaigned as hard as I did in the two general elections where my name was on the ballot paper, door knocking daily across every part of the constituency. Dulwich and West Norwood voted overwhelmingly to Remain and as the elected representative of this constituency in Parliament and a passionate Remainer, I have worked tirelessly to oppose Brexit and represent the strongly held pro-Remain views of both residents and Labour members in our area. We now face the prospect of a right wing Tory Government led by Boris Johnson with no democratic mandate attempting to bypass Parliament and force through a catastrophic no-deal Brexit. I am working with my colleagues in the Labour Party and across the House of Commons to stop this.
Like many in the constituency and across the Labour party, I was devastated by the referendum result. Since the beginning of the Brexit process, I have been clear that the British people must be given a final say on the detail of Brexit in a People’s Vote. This must include the option to remain in the European Union. I am pleased that the Labour Party supports putting any deal back to the British people and will offer a referendum at the next General Election.
Since the referendum, it has been important to me for the government to be continually reminded that there were many people in the UK – almost half of those who voted – who did not vote for Brexit and who do not want Brexit to happen. I voted against the triggering of Article 50 and continue to believe that triggering Article 50 without reaching consensus within the country or Parliament on a path forward was a catastrophic mistake. I have challenged Dominic Raab on the illegality of the Vote Leave campaign.
I have sought to represent my constituents faithfully in the way I have voted, and I have consistently voted for measures to secure a People’s Vote with the option to Remain. I have joined the People’s Vote March on all occasions and will be marching again with our local Labour Party in October. You can watch my intervention calling on Theresa May to put her deal back to the British people below.
A no-deal Brexit would be disastrous for our country and local communities. The Treasury’s own assessments forecast this could contract the UK economy by as much as 9.1% and lead to widespread job-losses. A no-deal Brexit would also pose a significant threat to the rights of valued EU citizens in our constituency and threaten peace in Northern Ireland. I cannot countenance allowing the UK to leave the EU without a deal.
I have supported all efforts to prevent the UK leaving the EU without an agreement including motions to extend Article 50 and to explicitly oppose a no-deal Brexit. I recently supported Hilary Benn’s amendment to the Northern Ireland Bill forcing the Government to continually update the House of Commons on the Northern Irish border. I am pleased that this has passed, although I remain concerned that Boris Johnson may attempt to prorogue Parliament. I am currently supporting legal action to prevent the Government proroguing Parliament to force through a no deal Brexit.
The Labour Party is clear that nobody voted for a no-deal outcome and have called for public vote to confirm this before any action is taken. Alongside my Labour colleague, I will campaign whole-heartedly to remain.
Brexit would have a devastating impact on the lives of the three million EU nationals living in the UK, and UK nationals living in the EU. I have been contacted by many EU nationals who are understandably distressed about the impact Brexit would have on them and their families. I was alarmed by Theresa May’s insistence on using the rights of these groups as a bargaining chip in her negotiations with the EU. Boris Johnson’s public statements suggest he will treat EU nationals similarly with at best indifference and at worst contempt.
As a member of the European Union, the UK has benefitted both economically and culturally from skilled EU nationals moving here to work and live in our communities. I am concerned that since the Brexit vote, there has been a significant decline in EU nationals moving to the UK. This has already created significant staff shortages in the NHS, in our schools and in other crucial sectors such as construction and social care.
I have consistently called on the Government to unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU nationals living in the UK and I have challenged the government on the fundamental flaws in the settled status scheme. Following the European Parliament Elections, I have also been supporting many constituents in challenging decisions which prevented them having their democratic vote.
I am concerned that valued members of our community have been made to feel unwelcome throughout the Brexit debate. We can already see falling number of EU nationals coming to build their lives in the UK, leading to staff shortages in the NHS and our schools. I will continue to oppose any attempt to introduce punitive measures against EU citizens.
I remain concerned by serious allegations of electoral fraud against both Vote Leave and Leave.EU. Evidence suggests both campaigns breached electoral law and I am pleased that this is being investigated by the National Crime Agency and the Metropolitan Police. I look forward to the outcomes of both investigations.
The referendum result was extremely close and the day after the referendum many of the promises on which the leave campaign had been based began to unravel. The breaches of electoral law by both campaigns calls into doubt the mandate for Brexit which they cling to. I believe the Government must urgently investigate these attempts to undermine our democracy and act to protect future votes from similar misconduct.