A Brexit update from Bristol's Green MEP Molly Scott Cato - sign up to receive regular updates here
This comes to you at a time when the stakes couldn’t be higher. Boris Johnson has warned that Brexit negotiations are facing meltdown, but urges us, in typical Dad’s Army fashion, not to panic. He also suggests he would prefer Donald Trump to be our negotiator in chief, despite the “breakdowns and all sorts of chaos” that would follow. He also accused the critical Irish border question of being the "tail to wag the dog" and that Brexit was being "dictated by this folly".
This has demonstrated more clearly than ever before the utter contempt leading Brextremist Tories have for the people of this country; for democracy and for harmonious relationships with our closest neighbours.
Meanwhile, Labour seem content to hand Brextremists like Boris Johnson hard Brexit on a plate. They are refusing to back a cross-Party Lords’ amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill calling on the UK to join the European Economic Area (EEA) – effectively meaning we would remain in the single market. Keir Starmer, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Brexit, announced earlier this week that the Party would propose its own amendment calling for “full access to the internal market of the European Union”. This is cakeism at its worst, as I point out in my open letter to Mr Starmer. The EU and EU27 have repeatedly made clear they are not willing to allow cherry picking or bespoke deals for the UK. It is disingenuous and arrogant in the extreme to think Labour would be able to negotiate such a deal that undermines the four freedoms – all of which are integral to the single market.
Which brings me to the most important purpose of this email. Next Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th June, MPs will debate and vote on 15 Lords amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill. As a further example of the government's contempt for democratic debate they have allowed just 12 hours in total for MPs to make some of the most important decisions of their political lives.
It is therefore crucial that MPs hear the voices of their constituents before the debate and vote next week. I have drafted a letter to help with lobbying your MP on three of the most important of the 15 amendments: continued membership of the customs union, giving Parliament a meaningful vote on the outcome of EU negotiations and removing the fixed exit date from the Bill. This is aimed at South West MPs but can be adapted for use anywhere.
Please do write to your MP this weekend using this link and urge him/her to act and vote courageously in the best interests of the country.
Other Brexit News
The Brexit shambles that we are witnessing, and failure by both government and opposition to put the interests of the country first, makes it ever more important that control is handed back to the people. This is why I am calling for a People’s Vote, something I argued for in my Guardian letter this week. I urge you to join me in London on 23rd June at the People’s Vote march. Please share this with friends. We need a show of strength to demonstrate to the government that we must have a final say on the Brexit deal, or choose to remain in the EU.
Doomsday No-deal scenario
As revelations emerged about civil servants preparing for food and medicine shortages if we crash out of the EU without a deal I was able to meet briefly with the Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, when she appeared before a European Parliament hearing last week. For many months I have been using Freedom of Information requests to make public the government’s Brexit impact studies. In March the High Court refused permission for judicial review, that I applied for together with Jolyon Maugham QC. Now the Information Commission has agreed to meet me to discuss all this and their on-going investigations into the fraudulent activities of the Leave campaign.
Brexit’s lost billions
At least a billion pounds of tax revenue, which could go towards funding schools and hospitals, will be lost due to Brexit. New revelations show that because Brexit is consuming all its time and resources, HMRC have shelved plans to digitalise tax procedures, which it estimates would have increased tax contributions to the exchequer by more than £1 billion. Our public services have already suffered badly due to the Tories cruel austerity measures. Now they look set to take a further hit thanks to Brexit. More on this here.
Molly Scott Cato