Our self admitted “EU Remainer” MP Rosie Cooper
who despite her own stance represents the “Leave” majority of Referendum voters in West Lancashire, probably needs a “get out of jail card”. This is a week when “Remain” MPs, who haven’t accepted the verdict of the 2016 Peoples Vote, defy democracy and the will of the people.
Rosie is in a “jail of her own making” because she made a conflicting statement, even while the EU was insulting the UK, “Let me be clear, Brexit is happening, don’t let anyone try to fool you on that. I voted in favour of holding a referendum, I voted in favour of triggering Article 50, and I will continue to vote to represent the will of West Lancashire residents. This Bill is about how we leave the EU, and I could not agree to the power grab where Theresa May and the Tories were trying to take decisions away from Parliament and concentrating it in their own hands. We voted to leave the European Union to put power and law-making back in the hands of the British people, not to hand it over to a Tory Cabinet, making decisions behind closed doors”.
Because, sadly in my view, Rosie apparently isn’t representing the will of West Lancashire residents and is not taking away the power and law-making of the EU, I wrote to her about it.
I reminded her of her intention, quoted publicly on 24th June 2016, that “For politicians of all political parties and on either side of the debate the referendum result must be respected, but the large minority vote to Remain should also be acknowledged too”. I suggested “I may be wrong but I have seldom read about such emphasis on minority votes. In my limited knowledge of political speak I have never heard of “large minorities” in two option choices only, with yes or no questions?
A generation-defining decision
“I say that because the 2016 Referendum did not seek opinions of scale. It was a straight choice of Remain or Leave. You said “West Lancashire residents voted in favour to Leave by a margin of 55.26 per cent to 44.66 percent. A generation-defining decision”.
“Moving on to 6th February 2017 you stated you were one of 498 MPs who voted in favour of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill to enable the government to trigger Article 50 ahead of their end of March 2017 deadline. You said “In 2011 I voted to support a Commons motion calling for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. I believed then that the British people needed to have their say on our relationship with the EU. It was clear there was and is huge disillusionment and we need an opportunity to step-back and consider our relationship.
“I voted for the Bill triggering Article 50 last week because the British people have now had their democratic say and a majority have chosen to leave the EU. Here in West Lancashire 55% of people voting also chose to the leave the EU. Throughout this process I have championed the right of British voters to have their say and absolutely believe those wishes have to be honoured”.
“TheyWorkForYou shows you have generally voted for more EU integration, 80 votes for, 17 votes against, 34 absences, between 2006–2019. I know that in 2017 your manifesto stated “Labour accepts the referendum result and a Labour government will put the national interest first. We will prioritise jobs and living standards, build a close new relationship with the EU, protect workers’ rights and environmental standards, provide certainty to EU nationals and give a meaningful role to Parliament throughout negotiations”.
“But that position has not remained consistent by the public statement of Labour wanting a second referendum, Labour does not now accept the referendum result. I am too long in the tooth to believe much of what politicians say or do. I prefer to read what is written. Understandably I have found some apparent discrepancies between what you have written and what you have voted for. Might you therefore be able to clarify once and for all your personal commitment, or not, to your honouring of the referendum result?”
In reply Rosie told me she shared my concern about how our withdrawal from the EU has been handled, and she said crashing out without a deal should be avoided. She made some claims about reciprocal rights for citizens, that no deal would mean an end to the frictionless and tariff-free trade with the EU that our manufacturers rely on, and “Indeed, 44% of our exports are to EU countries and 50% of our imports come from the EU”. I thought that was selective and I said so in my reply, below.
Rosie also included what are the meat and potatoes of everyday life, and not for the EU/UK, such as protection of jobs, vital institutions such as the NHS, and the environment, once the UK has left the EU.
As Rosie reminded me, she and 501 colleagues from across the House voted to mandate the Government to bring forward a motion on whether Parliament wants to seek a limited extension to Article 50 in the event of both the Prime Ministers’ deal, and a no-deal, being rejected.
I thanked Rosie for her reply, and told her I found it remarkable how much emphasis she put on “crashing out without a deal” and its denial, apparently, of reciprocal citizens’ rights, including British citizens rights, frictionless and tariff-free trade with the EU that our manufacturers rely on, and her quoted “44% of our exports are to EU countries and 50% of our imports come from the EU.
Rising Trade deficit
But she didn’t mention the single market benefits manufacturers, the EU, far more than providers of services, the UK. Britain’s trade performance with the rest of the EU has been woeful. According to data produced by the House of Commons library, it has run a trade deficit in goods and services combined in every year since 1999. What’s more, the deficit is getting bigger over time, doubling from £41bn to £82bn between 2012 and 2016, now reported at £95bn.
I mentioned the UK’s trading performance with the rest of the world has been better. Exports and imports were broadly in balance from 1999 to 2011 but since 2012 there has been a fivefold increase in the surplus from £8bn to £39bn. What’s not to like about that?
I said I know every government should prioritise jobs and vital institutions such as the NHS, but come on, how many years of trade deficits as members of the EU have eroded our ability to fund the NHS as we would like? I hoped for someone, presumably you, Rosie, to do the honourable thing, honour the local wish to leave the EU and trade freely under WTO conditions, which I believe would restore this nation’s status.
Free trade is something virtually all economists believe improves living standards. Most of the world trades with the EU on WTO terms. Of 135 non-EU members of the World Trade Organisation, 58 currently trade with the EU under negotiated trade terms. The rest, 77, trade under WTO terms. I don’t read of them suffering such trade deficits as ours with the EU?
Besides, I said, I want to choose my citizenship within the once sovereign country I enjoyed from 1939 until the appalling Edward Heath stole it from me. Is it too much to ask for?