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In June 2016, 73% of my Liverpool, Riverside constituents voted to remain—the European Union has been pivotal to Liverpool’s remarkable transformation—but many people across the country voted to leave, believing that it would make them better off. And now, two years on, it is clear that they were sold a false prospectus.
We are now urged to accept the deal in front of us, but beyond the transitional stage, there is no certainty. There is no deal. It is a political framework, urging the parties to work together in good faith. There is no certainty about frictionless trade, which is absolutely essential for just-in-time businesses and people being able to get the medicines they need at the time that they need them. There is no certainty that there will be any trade deal with the EU, there are no trade deals with the rest of the world agreed or anywhere near agreed, and there is a massive cut to financial services—a 6% hit—with effects for pensions and insurance. So what should we do?
Accepting this deal would be highly irresponsible. Leaving without a deal—the Government’s alternative—is inviting disaster. There could be more negotiation, without the Prime Minister’s red lines. If the House can agree a way forward, that could be explored, but it could be problematic and whatever solution is reached will be worse than the current deal we have as members of the European Union.
Alternatively, we could go back to the people and tell them the truth, which is that we cannot leave the club and keep all the benefits; that is mission impossible. We are told that people will be angry if they are asked for their opinion again. I think they will be angrier if we vote knowingly to make them poorer and they then face even more rising prices, fewer jobs and less money for public services. Surely we should give people the option to remain in the European Union with the knowledge that we now have. It is time for a referendum. It is time for a people’s vote. Let the people decide.