A Statement from The Rt Hon Kevan Jones MP regarding the motion for an Early Parliamentary General Election:
Ahead of the vote today, I wish to outline my position.
I have been clear that I accept the result of the 2016 referendum, and I understand the frustrations of those who wish to see this issue concluded.
However, an early General Election will not move this process forward. I will therefore not be voting for a General Election today.
Can I now set out the reasons why I have come to this judgement.
After the 2016 referendum, Theresa May outlined that a General Election was necessary to move Brexit forward and ‘get the job done.’ This election reversed the Conservative Party’s 12-seat majority, and installed a hung Parliament now reliant upon deliberation and compromise to move us beyond our present impasse.
For the first 2 years and 8 months of this process, Parliament had no powers over the direction of travel, including timetabling. In those first 2 years and 8 months, the Government deliberated amongst themselves the way in which we would leave the European Union, but did not bring a meaningful vote before Parliament and made no attempt to engage with other political parties to reach a consensus.
In this time, we have been disrupted by a General Election which the Government called, the fallout from Chequers which resulted in the reforming of the Cabinet, and Boris Johnson organising opposition to and voting against the previous Prime Minister’s deal.
At present, the European (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill has progressed past its Second Reading, the first time Parliament has approved a withdrawal agreement. With very little evidence to suggest that public opinion has shifted considerably since 2016, and on the basis that an agreement is currently before Parliament, I am unsure how a General Election would provide further clarity in relation to Brexit. What is needed now, is more time to engineer a deal which is acceptable to all parties.
As such, Parliament must focus on concluding a deal that allays the most entrenched concerns felt by the public and their representatives. The Prime Minister’s attempts to undermine centuries old convention, procedure and law, will not dig us out of our present impasse and indeed has contributed significantly to the delay at the root of our frustrations.
I am aware that Boris Johnson, in this moment, is attempting to represent the present impasse as one of ‘Parliament vs People’, yet the role he has played personally in engineering delay and disruption to the Brexit process is unsurpassed by anyone in his own party.
I know there are now those calling for what they call a ‘clean Brexit’, but it is worth remembering that the same individuals were not calling for this back in 2016, during the referendum. If we did leave without a deal, you would of course still need to negotiate a trade deal with the European Union, which we would have to conducted from a weaker position and would take many years.
The EU’s decision this morning to grant a ‘flextension’, allowing the UK to leave before January 2020 if a deal is passed, places further importance on ensuring the current European (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill is subject to the scrutiny it has not yet been afforded.
In the present moment, however, the Government’s attempts at an early General Election will not serve to quicken the process of leaving the European Union, but stall it further and suspend the discussions between parties to deliver an acceptable settlement.
If constituents would like to come and see me to discuss this matter personally, I’d be very happy to arrange this.
The Rt Hon Kevan Jones MP