Comparing Conservative and Labour policy on Brexit

Last week we finally had some clarification as to Labour’s policy on Brexit and, for all Labour leave voters, it appears to be a betrayal.

Jeremy Corbyn has pledged that he would keep the UK in the Custom’s Union with the EU – allowing free trade within the group of countries in the Union but this would mean we will not be able to negotiation individual trade deals with anyone else; much like the current situation of being an EU member. There are a number of problems with that which I would like to address:

1)      During the referendum it was clear that by voting to leave we would be leaving all of the EU’s institutions. By staying in the Custom’s Union we would in affect not be completely leaving. Therefore this is a direct contradiction to the democratic will of the people. 

2)      Staying in the Custom’s Union would prevent one of the major opportunities which leaving the EU presents: to take control of our trade. By being part of the Custom’s Union we will not be able to negotiate new trade deals with the rest of the world. The EU Custom’s Union block will still control this.

3)      This stance weakens the UK’s hand in negotiating a deal with the EU.

4)      Critics have argued, and I suspect with some justification, that this is a cynical attempt by Labour to divide the Government. Many of their shadow Ministers have previously said that the UK cannot stay in the Custom’s Union after Brexit and now those same Ministers are saying we can. Labour are hoping that Conservative ‘rebels’ will join them to defeat the Government in a vote on this. They hope this could lead to a vote of no confidence and potentially force another general election.

5)      I have heard the claim that Jeremy Corbyn is a man of principle. Well I am afraid that cannot be true, during his whole political career Corbyn has argued to leave the EU, now that a political opportunity has presented itself, Jeremy Corbyn’s principles have gone out of the window.

I feel it is important to highlight this significant U-turn by the opposition as Brexit is very important to the majority of local residents in North Warwickshire and Bedworth. Indeed this U-turn has been criticised by some Labour MPs such as Frank Field who has said staying in the Customs Union would be ‘ratting on’ Labour leave voters.

As a leave voter myself, with two-thirds of constituents voting for Brexit, I pledged to do everything I can as Member of Parliament to ensure the democratic will of the people is respected. At least now we are clearer as to where the opposition stand on one of the most important issues in modern British history.

In comparison Theresa May set out what the future relationship between the UK and EU could look like once the UK leaves in a recent speech.

The Government is seeking a free trade agreement but crucially the UK will not be a member of the Custom’s Union or Single Market.

Staying in the Single Market would mean having to implement new EU legislation automatically and in its entirety, and would also mean continued free movement.

The Government has been clear that it is leaving the Customs Union and a customs union – neither would be compatible with a meaningful independent trade policy.

We have put forward two potential options for our future customs arrangement with the EU:

Option one is a customs partnership between the UK and the EU: At the border, the UK would mirror the EU’s requirements for imports from the rest of the world, applying the same tariffs and the same rules of origin as the EU for those goods arriving in the UK and intended for the EU. 

Option two is a highly streamlined customs arrangement, where we would jointly agree to implement a range of measures to minimise frictions to trade, together with specific provisions for Northern Ireland, including to ensure the requirements for moving goods across borders are as simple as possible.

Ultimately the Government is seeking to the deliver the best possible future for the UK outside the EU and the Prime Minister has set out 5 tests to obtain this goal:

1)           Respect the result of the referendum; 

2)           Be an enduring agreement;

3)           Protect people’s jobs and security;

4)           Deliver an outcome consistent with the kind of country we want to be;

5)           Strengthen our Union of nations and bring our country back together.

This ambition is something I will continue to support the Government in achieving.