Shabana has written to constituents after MPs voted in favour of the new trading relationship between the United Kingdom and European Union late last year.
Over the past four years, many constituents have been in touch regarding the UK’s decision to leave the European Union after a referendum on our membership took place in 2016. The UK has now left the EU under the conditions of the new agreement.
In her letter, Shabana outlines her reasoning for voting for the deal that was presented to Parliament in December.
You can read her letter in full below.
Letter to constituents
Thank you for previously writing to me about Brexit and the United Kingdom’s future relationship with the European Union.
On 31 January last year the UK left the European Union, nearly four years after a majority of the British public voted to leave the EU, after Parliament ratified the withdrawal agreement. Both sides agreed to extend many parts of our relationship throughout the year to allow time to negotiate the terms of a new trade deal.
In late December MPs voted in favour of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement Bill by a majority of 448, and the New Year marked the beginning of our new relationship with the EU.
The referendum campaign of 2016 to decide on our future membership of the European Union was bitterly fought on both sides. I campaigned for Britain to remain in the European Union, believing that it was the right decision for our city and for our country. However, that referendum was won by those campaigning for us to leave the European Union, a result which was accepted by the Labour Party and that the Government agreed to implement on behalf of the British people.
In the years that followed, I consistently voted for the softest possible departure for Britain leaving the European Union. I believe it was then, as it still is now, my responsibility to vote in the best interests of my constituents – to protect jobs, secure the future of our economy, and to provide the best possible outcome for those who wanted to travel, live, and work in the EU.
After the General Election in 2019, the Conservatives won a significant majority and pledged to renegotiate our relationship with the EU and bring a new trade deal to parliament. The deal negotiated with the EU was presented in the final days of the transition period, causing unnecessary damage to business and the economy, and allowing little time for parliamentary scrutiny.
I believe it fell short of what the government promised. For example, it neglected services, which make up 80% of our economy and provides countless jobs in Birmingham. It also weakens our security measures and cooperation with our European partners.
However, I have always believed that to crash out of the EU with no deal would be unthinkable.
With no prospect of renegotiation left, I took the decision alongside nearly all of my Labour MP colleagues to vote in the national interest by rejecting no deal. That doesn’t mean I supported the deal in its entirety, but I did believe that it was the least worst option for business, supply chains, the economy and jobs in Birmingham. The chaos of ending the transition period with no deal, which would have meant substantial tariffs and barriers to trade, was simply not an option.
It is entirely possible that more holes in this deal will be exposed in the coming weeks and months which must be mended in the future. It is Labour’s job to focus on improving and building upon this deal to stand up for British interests. As part of that, I will always stand up against any Tory attempts to dilute workers’ rights and environmental standards.
The old divides of Remain and Leave are over. The Labour Party, led by Sir Keir Starmer, is focused on making this the best country to grow up in and grow old in. The biggest challenges facing our country and our planet require co-operation and international solutions, and a future Labour government will work with others with shared values to tackle those.
My work continues in standing up for the people of Birmingham Ladywood, and my commitment to delivering the best for our city and its people remains. Our focus should now be on tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, one of this generations greatest challenges, holding the Government to account and ensuring that lives can be saved, and that we can rebuild our country stronger than ever. You can continue to keep up to date with my latest work during the Covid-19 pandemic at the following link: https://www.shabanamahmood.org/category/news/
My office continues to receive hundreds of incoming enquiries from constituents every week, and last year received a record number of pieces of correspondence in light of the pandemic. As always, please do get in touch if I can help regarding this or any other issue.
Shabana Mahmood MP