Statement from The Rt Hon Kevan Jones MP regarding the Prime Minister’s New Deal:

The Prime Minister has agreed a new deal with the EU. It’s a new Withdrawal Agreement (the legal terms of our exit) and a new Political Declaration (the non-binding aims covering the future negotiation we’d need to have on our future trading and security relationship).

Firstly, it is important to state that this is simply an exit agreement. If it were passed, we would enter a transition period until the end of 2020 and begin negotiating the future trade deal with the EU based on the Political Declaration. On average trade deals take around 7 years to agree. The impression being given by the Government that this would ‘get Brexit done’ is not true.

On the matter of the deal itself, the Northern Irish backstop has been removed in favour of a customs border in the Irish Sea. This keeps Northern Ireland in a customs arrangement with the European Union and places the UK on a path of divergence.

According to this new deal, the rest of the UK is no longer seeking a ‘close economic relationship with the EU.’ Europe is our largest trading partner by far, taking 46% of our exports and constituting 54% of our imports. Here in the North East, businesses which have taken decades to build up, especially our advanced manufacturing and car industry, are particularly vulnerable.

According to the Government’s own figures, this deal would strip 6.7% from the UK’s expected path of GDP growth between now and 2034, at a cost of £130bn in lost GDP growth.

Alongside this, there is no inclusion of maintaining comparable employment standards, food standards, environmental standards, consumer protections, or product regulation. Unlike the previous deal, there are no words which even acknowledge the importance of these standards. These are minimum standards which we have come to regard as basic.

No longer seeking to align ourselves with Europe, coupled with the jettisoning of these protections, places us on the path to a trade deal with countries which do not share our commitment to these protections which would, in turn, force us to adopt these low standards.

I cannot vote for the removal of basic protections which protect our NHS, keep our air clean, and afford workers fair pay and dignity at work.

With the arrangements for NI, this breaks up the Union and threatens to break it further.

I won’t be voting for it, as I believe a close relationship with our European partners and the maintaining of standards is the most desirable pathway out of this impasse. As such, we must strive for a solution which clearly and unequivocally preserves our security ties with Europe and protects our economic relationship.

I am always happy to meet with constituents who wish to discuss their concerns related to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, or any other issues. If this would be helpful, please contact me on [email protected].

Best wishes,