On June 23rd, the British people voted for Brexit in the referendum. So did Doncaster. I believe we must respect that decision to leave the European Union. That is why I recently voted to support the triggering of Article 50, which would begin our negotiations to leave the EU, by the end of March 2017.
That is my duty to my constituents. But my duty does not stop there. My duty to you is to make sure I play my part in getting the best possible deal for Britain and for Doncaster outside the EU. That is why I have been arguing that Parliament must be able to scrutinise and vote on the government’s plan for Brexit.
The reason this is so important is that there are huge issues at stake. Whether and on what terms Doncaster’s businesses will be able to export to countries in the European Union. Whether our workers will still be able to get jobs in other EU countries. What controls there will be on immigration after Brexit. And whether the government will honour the promise of the Leave campaign to deliver £350m a week extra for the NHS.
These issues are extremely complicated, and depend a lot on the process of the negotiations with the rest of Europe. But my fear is that there is little hope that Theresa May and her Tory government will ever deliver the right deal for our area. That’s why we need to watch her like a hawk and make sure Doncaster’s interests are protected.
Brexit was about crucial issues around our relationship with Europe and immigration. But it was also about people’s fundamental unhappiness that our economy was not working for them. That’s why it’s so disappointing that despite warm words, Theresa May is ploughing on with cuts to the Universal Credit which will hit working people, while finding the money to reduce corporation tax for large firms.
Delivering the best deal for Doncaster is about making Brexit fair. Fair to people whose wages are stuck, who can’t find an affordable home to rent or buy and worry about their kids chances. The reality is that this is a concern of Leave and Remain voters in Doncaster.
That must be the priority in the months and years ahead. The most crucial message of the referendum was that Britain today is not working for most people. That is what we must turn round and that is what I am committed to helping to achieve.