Prime Minister’s Statement
Theresa May came to Parliament to set out the details of the Brexit deal she has negotiated with the EU. I was among the first backbench MPs to ask her a question, as follows:
“The Prime Minister knows that her deal is dead. She knows that ‘no deal’ would be a disaster. So we risk chaos, job losses, environmental rules torn up, and the NHS in crisis. But that was never the Will of the People, they did not vote for that. This isn’t a parlour game, it’s real people’s real lives, and those risks can only be addressed if we put aside party politics. So I appeal to her again: why will she not give the people of this country a vote, a People’s Vote on where this country goes next?”
You can read her response and the full debate here.
I also joined forces with the Westminster leaders of all the opposition parties to successfully insist the Prime Minister came to Parliament before she answered questions from the media.
And I noted on social media that to describe the outline Political Declaration as ‘sketchy’ would be overly kind. It is just six-and-a-half pages long, and including section headings runs to a mere 2,363 words – or four words for each of the 595 days of negotiation since Article 50 was triggered on 29 March 2017. That is simply not an adequate basis on which to proceed with withdrawal from the EU.
People’s Vote Rally
More than 3,000 people gathered at short notice on the eve of the expected Cabinet meeting about Theresa May’s Brexit deal to send a clear message to the Government about the need for a People’s Vote. I was one of the cross-party speakers and joined other MPs including Justine Greening, David Lammy and Layla Moran.
I said: “We will not be blackmailed into accepting [the Government’s] miserable deal. We will not accept a deal that far from taking back control would strip our sovereignty away and hand it to others. We will not accept a deal that no one voted for in June 2016. This deal has no mandate. This miserable mockery of a deal is nothing less than a con on the British people, and that’s why we demand a People’s Vote.”
You can watch my full speech here.
Securing EU citizens' rights
I spoke at The 3 Million's event in Parliament, highlighting the importance of celebrating freedom of movement. I won't stop campaigning until ministers guarantee EU citizens' rights regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.
Discussing the latest Brexit polling
I went on Channel 4’s Brexit: What the Nation Really Thinks to discuss the findings of their landmark survey of 20,000 people across the country.
The independent polling found a majority of the public now want to remain in the European Union. More than half also support at least one formation of a People’s Vote on the outcome of the negotiations, and there was strong support for our free movement rights.
It's important that the campaign for a People’s Vote isn’t about pretending the last two years didn’t happen – I made a point of saying those who voted for such radical change in 2016 were right that the status quo is unacceptable, and that we must urgently address their concerns. Watch the full programme to see more of the results.
Protecting the environment after Brexit
Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee, of which I’m a member, released a report warning that the Government still hasn’t committed to replacing around a third of all environmental rules governing air, water, chemicals and waste disposal that cannot be copied over into UK law from the EU.
Even more worryingly, there has been no progress on creating an environmental watchdog with real teeth – without which ministers will have little reason to enforce any existing environmental protections. We need an effective watchdog to hold ministers to account through fines and court orders – ensuring our wildlife and countryside is protected and restored at this time of profound ecological crisis.
Later in the week, Michael Gove confirmed in a letter to the Committee his Department has poached 400 staff from Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Rural Payments Agency for Brexit work.
This is the latest in a string of cutbacks that are decimating agencies that look after irreplaceable habitats and beautiful landscapes. Since 2010 ministers have slashed funding for Natural England’s work on Sites of Special Scientific Interest by 55 per cent – putting wildlife at risk.
It’s vital ministers reverse cuts to Natural England’s funding immediately.