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Leaving the Eu: Customs

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:31 pm on 16th May 2018.

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Photo of James Frith James Frith Labour, Bury North 6:31 pm, 16th May 2018

Releasing this information is part of the job: this is about scrutiny, not mutiny.

As I have said in the House and in my constituency, I want a Brexit that is the best for Bury and Britain, not the confines and machinations of hard-liners among Government Members sitting on their protected bit of green-belt land, not a stand-off in Government two years in, and not a Prime Minister in a spin, announcing ideas, but admitting that they all still need work. And we have not even left yet. The serious point is that current jobs, our future prospects and just-in-time manufacturing rely on getting this right, and peace in Northern Ireland relies on us getting this right. This is detail on which millions of jobs, lives and livelihoods depend, and detail that our real economic growers need sight of.

It is said that the hard-Brexit ideologues are prepared to sacrifice themselves to get what they want on this point, but there is no heroism here. It is not heroic to put a company out of business from the comfort of their places on the Green Benches. It is not heroic to put jobs at risk as they nod with their accomplices across the table at the latest Brexit dinner. No hero takes risks with others’ lives when only they will live without the consequences of failure.

In Bury, we have businesses of all persuasions, ambitions and origins. Each of them tells me about their careful consideration of the implications, threats and, possibly, opportunities posed by leaving the EU, but they all want a customs union. As they weigh up their next moves, they should be enabled to do so with the best information—good and bad—that is available. Giving them such information will better prepare us all, because away from here, the prism through which Brexit is seen is that of communities, families, homes, jobs and prospects. That must also be our approach to Brexit: not deals in the dark, but information brought to light. Sharing the information from these Cabinet discussions is part of doing so.

A customs union is an economically literate plan that is supported by the CBI, as well as employers providing local jobs in Bury and elsewhere. It accepts the result of the referendum, allows us to move away from the stalled state of things as they are and lets us quickly get plans for a post-Brexit Britain. We need a transformation agenda to bring back to Labour the wards and communities in which people voted to leave because they felt left behind; and we need a modern vision for a country dealing with the world. The Government must stop wilfully adhering to threats made by a tiny rump of ideologues and do what is right by this country.