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I campaigned during the referendum to remain, I voted to remain and, like many, I was devastated at the outcome. While the EU is far from perfect, our country, our capital and my constituency have benefited hugely from our membership of it. Enfield North constituents voted narrowly to remain. However, I accepted that the country as a whole voted to leave, and the Government therefore had a mandate to negotiate a Brexit deal, so I voted to trigger article 50. I can say that I deeply regret this decision. If I had known then that the Government would make such a mess of the negotiations and would bring back a deal that will make my constituents and our country so much poorer, I would never have voted to trigger it.
The Government are pursuing a policy that will damage our country for generations. Damning economic analysis by the Treasury shows that, in every scenario, Brexit would make our country worse off. Nobody voted for that in 2016: it was not on the ballot paper; nor was it plastered as a pithy slogan on the side of a bus. A YouGov Brexit poll in The Times yesterday shows clearly that a growing number of people believe the leave vote was a mistake and less than one in four people support the Prime Minister’s deal.
People do have the right to change their minds. In separate YouGov research this month, three times more voters say the case for the public being given a final say on Brexit has been strengthened than say it has been weakened. The majority of the public now support a people’s vote, including 60% of people living in Enfield North. Is that any wonder, given that the Prime Minister has consistently put her party’s interests before the interests of this country? It is pointless for her to tour the TV and radio studios to sell her Brexit deal to the public, but not give them the opportunity to decide whether they want to buy the deal with a people’s vote.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has said that
“the abject failure of the Government—and the huge risk we now face of either a bad deal or a ‘no deal’
Brexit—means that giving people a fresh say…is now the right, and only, approach left for the good of our country.”
The public must not be shut out of this decision, given what is at stake. Huge economic risks and human costs are involved. Independent economic analysis shows that every Brexit outcome analysed would be bad for the economy. A worst case no-deal Brexit could mean 87,000 fewer jobs in the capital alone by 2030, and a lost decade of less investment and lower growth.
At Brimsdown in Enfield, we have the second largest industrial estate in London. It is a vital part of our local economy, with 8,000 people employed in 240 companies on site. Many of these companies trade throughout the EU, relying on the single market, the customs union and freedom of movement. If we were to crash out of the EU with no deal or leave with this bad deal, Brimsdown and our local economy will suffer.
Enfield has already been hammered by eight years of Tory austerity. The council is having to cope with a £178 million cut to its budget, which is piling huge pressure on services. There is soaring child poverty, with 34,000 children in the borough now living below the bread line. One in three jobs in Enfield is paid less than the London living wage. Families are struggling just to keep their heads above water, and I am not willing to gamble with their livelihoods and our economy to satisfy the fantasies of hard Brexiteers.
We have other responsibilities about which to be mindful, such as the future of our young people and ensuring they get the best possible start in life. All the young people I have talked to feel that we have sold them down the river. It is time to go back to the people and let them decide.