‘It’s time to revoke Article 50 and call off Brexit’ says Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner
Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner has called for Article 50 to be revoked after Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement was voted down for the second time.
MPs rejected the Prime Minister’s deal by 391 votes to 242 last night (Tuesday), throwing her Brexit strategy into further confusion.
Today (Wednesday), MPs will get a vote on whether the UK should leave without a deal on March 29 and, if that is rejected, a vote on Thursday on whether Brexit should be delayed.
Mr Zeichner slammed the government for “recklessly wasting yet more time in order to force a false binary choice” over Brexit.
On Monday (March 11), the Labour MP led a debate in Parliament calling for Article 50 to be revoked.
He repeated that call last night: “We are now only two-and-a-half weeks away from crashing out of the EU without a deal, which would have extremely serious economic, social and political ramifications – hitting the most vulnerable hardest with possible food price rises and medicine shortages.
“The government’s no deal impact assessment published just two weeks ago told us that ‘food prices are likely to increase’, and that custom checks could cost business £13billion a year.
“It is completely irresponsible for the Conservatives to continue to put their party ahead of the national interest. They must now move to revoke Article 50 as a matter of urgency, or give the country the final say in a referendum on the Prime Minister’s plan.”
South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen, a member of the Independent Group, said she was surprised at how large the loss was for the government, adding that she now senses a real opportunity.
She said: “It surprised me again as it did last time how major the loss was. But what I hope is a cause for optimism is that the Prime Minister seemed to discuss what many of us have been waiting for, for a long time, the opportunity for Parliament to give direction either in terms of a different kind of deal or, indeed, she even mentioned a second referendum.
“That’s the first time that she’s mentioned that as a proactive possibility, so I’m very encouraged by that, but of course we need to see how she actually responds in the legislation that will be brought forward in the next couple of days.”
Ms Allen said she would need to look carefully at the wording of the amendments that are brought forward tomorrow and Thursday – already there is a suspicion that the government might be “playing games” with the suggestion that “one is linked to the other”.
Ms Allen acknowledged that the situation is very worrying for constituents.
“I understand how incredibly unsettling this is, not just on an economic and security point of view, but also for the thousands of EU citizens that we have living and working in South Cambridgeshire,” she said.
“I know it’s incredibly hard but I ask them to trust that at every stage of this, I will absolutely put their needs and our economy in South Cambridgeshire first and that although it feels very turbulent, I do now sense a real chance for optimism that there might be a better, softer Brexit, or a second referendum.
“People absolutely need to hold their nerve and trust that there are enough of us in Parliament on both sides that are fighting for a deal that doesn’t damage our economy.”
She added: “I don’t believe there is a deal out there that is better than we have now.
“If I felt it wasn’t going to cause significant damage to the divisions in the country, I still think a second referendum, and an opportunity to stay, has to be the best thing long-term for the country.”
Mrs May said that the choices facing the UK were “unenviable”, but because of the rejection of her deal, “they are choices that must be faced”.
She added: “This is an issue of grave importance for the future of our country.
“Just like the referendum there are strongly held and equally legitimate views on both sides.
“For that reason, I can confirm that this will be a free vote on this side of the House.”
Speaking after the vote, Eastern region Labour MEP Alex Mayer said: “Not a single sentence, word or comma changed in the withdrawal agreement text since the last time Theresa May put the deal to Parliament.
“Her eleventh-hour dash to Strasbourg looked like a desperate ploy to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes.
“This is not a deal that protect jobs, rights or living standards. It makes us a rule taker, not a rule maker.
“So I’m not surprised this miserable, flawed deal got voted down – in fact I’m pleased. But what a mess.
“MPs now need to rule out no deal as soon as possible and, after two-and-a-half years of failed negotiations, making Britain a laughing stock, it is time for a public vote.”
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said the government must accept its deal does not have the support of the House. He called for no deal to be taken off the table, and says the Labour Party’s proposal is the suitable alternative.
Mr Corbyn says the Prime Minister “knows full well” the damage a no-deal Brexit would do.
More by this authorGemma Gardner