Jon Trickett: Why Labour will vote against Theresa May’s ‘dead parrot’ Brexit deal

Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks in the House of Commons, London, following Prime Minister Theresa May's statement on the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement.
Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks in the House of Commons, London, following Prime Minister Theresa May's statement on the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement.
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Mrs May’s deal most closely resembles Monty Python’s dead parrot.

The rest of the country knows it, as do the Europeans, only the Prime Minister herself appears not to have seen the central point.

After 28 months, and more than 20 ministerial resignations and one general election, Theresa May claimed to have secured an agreement with the European Union following thousands of hours of negotiations.

Yet this is not the “breakthrough” it has been spun as.

Instead it has led to the breakdown of government.

To put it simply, it is a bad deal for our country and a bad deal for Yorkshire.

Many of those Tory Ministers that until now have stuck with May think so too, with seven resigning less than 24 hours after the Cabinet supposedly agreed to support her deal.

The most high-profile of these resignations, at the time of writing, is the Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab – the second person to hold the post after David Davis also quit earlier this year.

It is totally extraordinary that Raab resigned in order to protest against the very deal which he himself had negotiated.

And so not only is the deal now dead and waiting for the last rites but the Government is itself falling apart before our eyes.

It is hard not to view the mess with a grim smile, but the nation is now left with a serious problem.

Look what it means for Yorkshire.

We are now suffering the consequences of years of under-investment.

The result is that our hard-working communities, our businesses and our working population are all held back and don’t reach the best of our potential.

There are 250,000 children in poverty in our great county; wages are falling; and living costs continue to rise.

Also, there has been under-investment in our infrastructure, most notably in our transport system.

Theresa May is taking the country for a ride.

Indeed, the ‘deal’ she has offered is neither fish nor fowl.

It fails to satisfy either of the Brexit or the Remain voters.

This great newspaper has campaigned fearlessly for Yorkshire over the years.

Brexit was supposedly about taking back control, but the so-called deal fails to deliver and readers surely recognise this.

For example, it is disheartening to see that the May plan seeks to create yet another quango to enforce EU rules that make it difficult to provide the government investment many of our industries need – particularly in Yorkshire and the North of England.

And at the same time this Tory government is refusing to agree to a One Yorkshire devolution deal.

I agree with The Yorkshire Post. It’s simple.

Give us the tools and we here in the North can do the job.

Only with proper devolution, of power and resources, can this be achieved.

But instead we have a set of proposals under May’s Brexit plans which would centralise even more powers and decision-making in Westminster.

Crucially, they accept that the rulings of the European Court in Brussels will continue to apply to Britain, meaning we will be more powerless as a country than we were before.

This does not surprise me.

The Tories have always been a party of Westminster and the centralisation of power in the hands of the few.

Let’s be clear, they have failed to develop the policies needed to transform the parts of this country that have long been neglected.

In her late afternoon press conference on Thursday May had the demeanour of one who is exhausted but not yet prepared to admit the truth.

Being resilient is an admirable quality. But pigheadedly refusing to acknowledge reality is wrong.

We in Labour will vote against the proposal and we will be joined by all the other parties as well as a number of Conservative rebels.

What we then need is urgent action which will honour the decision in the referendum to leave the EU, but to do so in a way which minimises the economic disruption which would happen with Mrs May’s plans.

However, if there is simply a Tory leadership contest, a change of personnel won’t solve the problem at the root of this country’s trouble: that the Conservative Party cannot agree among itself as to what type of Brexit it wants.

They have turned a crisis among Tories into a crisis for this country. There is a better way.

We need to reset negotiations, deliver a deal that could command a majority in the country and begin to heal the divisions brought about by the referendum.

Such plans would begin with the economic and industrial reconstruction of all those areas which for too long have been held back, including here in Yorkshire. Labour is ready to serve.

Given the abject failure of a Tory government riven by almost theological European divisions whilst the country trembles on the edge, only a Labour government can unite the country and deliver for the many not the few.

Jon Trickett is Labour MP for Hemsworth