March 25, 2019 9.55 am This story is over 33 months old

Karen Lee: Why I oppose the PM’s deal and a no-deal Brexit

The Lincoln MP explains her stance

As Lincoln’s MP, I have spent a huge amount of time over the past weeks and months focusing on Brexit. As a result, other issues which my constituents seek help with are being ignored by this government, such as cuts to sickness and disability benefits, problems with inadequate housing, issues accessing healthcare, and many more social issues I’m approached about day in and day out.

I have opposed Theresa May’s deal because it won’t protect jobs, workplace rights or environmental standards. It won’t ensure frictionless trade for UK businesses and it provides no certainty about our future relationship with the EU. It rules out a permanent customs union, which is vital to support businesses and jobs in our city.

Lincolnshire’s economy relies on the manufacturing industry, which provides over one in ten jobs in the East Midlands, for jobs and investment. 48% of manufacturers’ trade is with the EU, and businesses need a frictionless trade deal to maintain supply chains and access European markets.

The Prime Minister’s plan all along has been to run down the clock on Brexit, using the threat of no deal to bully MPs into accepting her deal. Mrs May’s deal has been voted down twice by MPs of all parties, including her own. In January the Prime Minister’s deal was resoundingly rejected by the biggest margin in UK history.

Mrs May brought her unchanged deal back to MPs on March 13 and it was again defeated by a huge margin. She has humiliated our country and made us the laughing stock of Europe. She has purposely delayed things so much that there is simply not enough time left to legislate for and deliver an orderly Brexit on March 29. 

Labour have said that we will do all we can to rule out a no deal Brexit, and we helped win a vote in Parliament to take no deal off the table. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the East Midlands’ economy is projected to lose £12 billion a year – which is more than how much we spend on all regional NHS services.

I have been appalled that the government has repeatedly threatened Lincoln and other areas in the UK with such a disastrous outcome. That’s why Labour MPs took the necessary step of voting to extend our leaving date so that we can find a way forward which works for all of our constituents.

The PM is now saying she will only ask for a short extension of Article 50 so she can keep trying to pass her deal — this will not break the current deadlock on Brexit. Her speech to the nation, where she attempted to blame MPs for her own intransigence, was a disgrace. Her attitude somehow continues to be “my way or the highway”, despite her deal being voted down twice by huge numbers. The PMs aggressive language was also irresponsible given the very real threats to personal safety MPs face, and she ought to know better.

Since being elected I have worked hard to represent the views of everyone in Lincoln, whether they voted leave or remain, and to always prioritise the best for our city. I will continue to put Lincoln first throughout the Brexit crisis that this government has needlessly created.

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Karen Lee was the Labour MP for Lincoln between 2017 and 2019. She is an NHS nurse and a Labour County Councillor for the Cathedral and Ermine ward of Lincoln