A ‘NO-DEAL’ Brexit would be a disaster for Yorkshire and for the country. As a region, we would lose seven per cent of our economic output and over 50,000 jobs.
Our region is highly dependent on manufacturing – particularly pharmaceuticals and steel. Border delays affecting lines of supply and delivery and tariffs affecting our ability to buy and sell at competitive rates will increase prices to levels that may send our key industries into permanent decline.
Non-tariff barriers to trade such as quality alignment rules or environmental legislations – all of which would have to be checked product by product in a ‘no-deal’ scenario – will add additional complications, costs and delays.
For the country to function at a bare minimum, there are still six outstanding pieces of primary legislation that have to be passed through Parliament. These cover issues as vital as agriculture, fisheries, animal welfare, how we protect our environment, how we manage immigration and how we protect the rights of EU citizens living here.
The Government has delayed this legislation constantly. It has allowed for very little scrutiny and even fewer objections as they seek to force through sweeping changes to how we structure our society, manage key parts of our economy and work as a country once we have left the EU with widespread use of ‘Henry VIII’ powers.
This is not the control anyone voted to take back. This is not the Parliamentary sovereignty anyone voted to restore. It is government through panicked diktat – about to be rushed through by the seat of this Government’s pants.
This is why, as a Yorkshire MP, I owe it to my constituents, my region and the country as a whole to do everything I can to stop ‘no-deal’. Even were we ready for it, this would be a highly damaging option. As it is, it could spell catastrophe for the very people I was elected to protect and serve.
Parliament needs to take control of the timetable in order to stop Boris Johnson holding an election before we have our rightful say over what happens on October 31.
While I want a chance to elect a Labour government as much as anyone else does, I want that government to be able to implement our radical and reforming agenda. ‘No-deal’ Brexit will cripple our ability to do that. It is important that we work together across Parliament to have a resolution to Brexit decided by the people in a ‘Final Say Public Vote’ deciding between an agreed form of Brexit and staying in the EU.
General elections are not designed to be proxy votes on single issues, and nor should they be. They need to be a collective expression of public will on a comprehensive programme for the country. A Brexit general election would create a perverse result which may last five years with far-reaching and unintended domestic consequences. We should not have an election before a referendum.
Now is the moment for everyone who supports stopping ‘no-deal’ to put egos, partisanship and personal advantage aside for the greater good. That has to mean the Liberal Democrats taking seriously the offer that has been put on the table by Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Opposition.
That title means something. He commands the second largest group in Parliament. It is his right by status, but also his responsibility by numbers to be the person to lead the charge to oust Boris Johnson and try and form a caretaker government in negotiating an extension to Article 50 then resolving the Brexit impasse.
Now is the time to stop trying to pass the blame. Parliament has spent so long trying to reassert its authority and, like with Yvette Cooper’s Bill, often succeeding.
It would be a tragedy to lose that now over partisan bickering just because the Lib Dems feel it would harm them electorally to support Jeremy Corbyn’s initiative to stop ‘no-deal’.
Those of us who want to stop Brexit – and especially a ‘no-deal’ Brexit – in Labour must show a generosity towards the Lib Dems that we are not naturally inclined to. They are our political opponents – especially in seats like mine. But this is bigger than my chance to win a quick but extremely pyrrhic victory. My priority over and above any partisan thoughts is to stop a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. Now is the time for all of us to put the good of the country first.
Alex Sobel is the Labour MP for Leeds North West.