In the weeks and months that have passed since the referendum I have spoken to thousands of residents, I’ve had hundreds of emails, messages and phone calls from people from Hull West and Hessle and the one clear message is that people have not changed their minds. If they voted to leave then they still want to leave and if they voted to remain then they still want to remain. The thing that has changed is because of the total and utter mess the Conservatives have made of Brexit people are polarising into extreme positions.
As a Labour MP it is frustrating to be held responsible for the failure of the Tories to sort out Brexit and I know things would have been different if Labour was in power. The time for Theresa May to compromise was three years ago following the referendum, not a half hearted insincere attempt two weeks before the euro elections.
During the General Election in 2017 I promised to fight for a good deal for Hull West and Hessle. I said I respected the result of the referendum and I still respect the result. During that election campaign the idea of ‘no deal’ was never mentioned and nor was it mentioned by the official leave campaign. There are recordings, quotes, statements from Leave EU all arguing for a deal and in fact arguing that Article 50 should not be triggered without a deal. Labour have stayed true to this promise and Jeremy Corbyn set out in his letter to Theresa May months ago the Brexit deal Labour would support.
But for the betrayal narrative of the extreme right wing politics to work the Brexit Party must keep moving the goal posts. No Brexit will ever be Brexity enough. Any hint of a deal or compromise will face screaming chants of “betrayal” because to survive they need to feed off the betrayal narrative. We can already see the ludicrous situation of Tory leadership hopefuls competing over who’s got the ‘biggest Brexit.’
I respect everyone’s choice in the 2016 referendum. Indeed, some of my family voted leave and some voted remain and each has their own reason for their vote.
MP’s have never been faced with a binary ‘in vs out’ Brexit vote, had it come to that I would respect the wishes of my constituents in the referendum. But politics is never so clear cut, there are many shades of grey around the Brexit question.
What we were asked to vote on was Theresa May’s Withdrawal Bill and I voted against this because it is a bad deal for our country. I was pleased to vote for Labour’s Brexit alternative Brexit plan. I also voted for Brext 2.0 which is a sensible compromise, yes to delivering Brexit but on sound economic footing which safeguards workers rights and environmental protections that shape the society we aspire to deliver for future generations.
The EU elections were not a good night for Labour in Hull but, as your MP I’ll always do what’s right and not what’s easy. It would be easy for me to join the ‘no deal’ chanting and, to quote Boris, “f**k business.” I might get more votes but I’m sure I could never be that utterly selfish. I will always act to prevent a no deal Brexit. Hull West and Hessle is my home and will always be my home, I could never inflict such harm on my community, my friends and my family.
The Brexit fog that permeates our politics is hiding from the headlines the real crises austerity is having upon people in Hull West and Hessle. The cost of living is ever increasing and life is becoming harder. We have a mental health crisis for our children and the increasing number of suicides should shame our country. I know that things will only improve for our community, our children and our elderly when we have a Labour government committed to ending austerity and transforming lives. To win a general election Labour must be an inclusive broad based outward looking party and not simply reflect a narrow political point of view. Whether you voted remain or leave, a Labour government offers hope and the opportunity to rise together and that’s a future worth fighting for.