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Labour tests to hold the government to account over Brexit must be met

06 April, 2017

• PRIME minister Theresa May has now served the Article 50 notice formally beginning Brexit.

Her letter’s not-so-veiled threats over security were crude and provocative. The response from the other 27 states is not encouraging either, refusing the PM’s key demand that the terms of exit and new trade arrangements should be negotiated simultaneously.

Faced with a leaving bill of up to €50billion it is going to be a long time, and more likely never, that the Brexiteers’ referendum promise of an extra £350million a week for the National Health Service will materialise.

And for those who expected a return to parliamentary sovereignty, the government’s intention to use “Henry VIII” powers, enabling ministers to decide on new laws without parliamentary scrutiny, must be a surprise – unlike now, as our parliament has the opportunity to scrutinise all new laws and regulations from the EU.

So I am pleased that Labour has set out six key tests to hold the government to account over the Brexit deal.

Does it ensure a strong and collaborative future relationship with the EU – a comprehensive EU-UK trade deal and continued co-operation in areas such as counter-terrorism, policing, science, medicine, culture and technology?

Does it deliver the “exact same benefits” as we currently have as members of the single market and customs union? This is the standard Brexit minister David Davis promised.

Does it ensure the fair management of migration in the interests of the economy and communities? London is very different from much of the rest of the country on this.

Exiting the EU must not be used as a pretext for rolling back employment rights or weakening hard-won protections, so does it defend rights and protections and prevent a race to the bottom?

Does it protect national security and our capacity to tackle cross-border crime? Does it deliver for all regions and nations of the UK?

The prime minister has been unable to gain the confidence of the governments of Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and is well out of step with London’s needs.

This may all sound like a tall order, but these points reflect the promises and commitments that have been made by Brexiteers and the Conservatives to win the referendum.

So my personal view is that if these tests are not met, and if there are clear signs that the public mood has substantially changed because the negotiations are  proceeding to an unsatisfactory conclusion, then the people should be offered the chance to think again in another referendum.

Labour London Assembly  Member for Barnet & Camden
City Hall, SE1 2AA


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