Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Feb 2019 number 113 Brexit update
Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health is urging the Prime Minister to rule out a disastrous ‘No-Deal’ Brexit scenario. As uncertainty around Brexit continues from day to day, it is more important now than ever that a viable solution is found to break the current impasse.
In recent weeks, Sharon has been contacted by local businesses who are growing increasingly concerned by the lack of certainty around Brexit, some of whom have already incurred significant financial costs through preparing for any eventuality.
This comes as a number of high profile trade bodies and businesses issue stark warnings about the reality of a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit – details of which can be found at the bottom of this page.
Sharon Hodgson MP said:
‘There have been growing calls by some people in recent weeks and months for a ‘No-Deal’ or ‘Clean Break’ Brexit, in which we would leave the European Union (EU) without an agreement. This is being painted by some, as a harmless and convenient way in which to bring the current political crisis over Brexit to an end.
What these latest figures from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Government’s own financial analysis and the concerns I have heard from local businesses, the North East Chamber of Commerce show, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), and Trade Unions is that this could not be further from the truth.
When the automotive and manufacturing industries highlight the huge impacts that any disruption at the border could have, it’s important to listen. No politician should claim to know more about the intricate nature of industry, than those who actually work within it, and this is something I will never do.
It is all too easy for some to dismiss the concerns being raised as ‘Project Fear’, but the very real truth is that there is now the possibility of severe and long-term damage being done to our region due to the reckless approach to Brexit by this Tory Government. It won’t be the Boris Johnsons or the Jacob Rees-Moggs of the world who suffer, it will be working people in the North-East.
Our region has already suffered disproportionately under 9 years of punishing austerity, and as the proud Labour MP for my constituency I will never inflict more pain on those I represent.
That is why I will continue to back the Labour Party in calling on the Prime Minister to do the right thing by dropping her red lines, ruling out ‘No-deal’ and allow Parliament to decide next steps.’
Sharon Hodgson MP has taken a number of steps in recent weeks to put pressure on the Government into ruling out a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit:
- Sharon joined over 200 MPs from across the political spectrum in signing a letter to the Prime Minister urging the Government to agree a mechanism that would ensure a ‘No Deal’ Brexit could not take place.
- Sharon attended a meeting that followed on from this letter, with the Prime Minister on Tuesday 8th January 2019 where concerns from MPs representing constituencies across the country were aired about the damaging impact that a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit could have on manufacturing and jobs.
- Sharon also supported an Amendment to the Finance Bill which would limit the scope for tax changes following a ‘No-Deal’ unless authorised by MPs. Although the specific effect of this measure may be limited, it signals that there is no majority in the House of Commons for ‘No-Deal’.
- Sharon intends to support amendments that seek to take ‘No-Deal’ off the table and allow Parliament to have a say on options to break the Brexit deadlock.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) recently released information on the impact of a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit scenario on the North-East:
- If the UK fails to secure a deal, by 2034 real GVA – a measure of the value of goods and services produced in the region - could be 10.5% lower in the North East than under the UK’s current arrangements with the EU1. This could amount to an annual loss of output worth £7 billion by 2034 (in today’s prices), equivalent to twice the amount of public spending on schools and education in the region each year2.
- North East, and many of the region’s manufacturing businesses are particularly exposed to the risk of higher tariffs and other trade costs that would hit firms in a no deal scenario. The manufacturing sector accounts for 15% of the North East’s GVA and 10.4% of employment, making it the region’s largest sector3. With 89% of the North East’s exports being goods, and with 59% of these going to the EU4, a deal is really important for jobs and growth in the North East.
- The prospect of higher tariffs, border delays and administrative costs are a particular risk for the North East’s automotive sector – which spans small technology companies making steering systems to one of the largest car companies in the world. Transport equipment makes up the greatest share of manufacturing GVA in the North East (15.0%), and 94% of this comes from motor vehicles3. At a national level, the automotive sector is likely to be one of the most severely impacted sectors in a no deal scenario, with sectoral GVA projected to be around 23% lower by 2034 than it would be if today’s arrangements persisted1.That is because tariffs on cars could be up to 10% and every completed component in a car would have to be tested twice over before being sold, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds.
- The North East’s important chemicals, refined petroleum and coke sector, which accounts for 13.7% of the region’s manufacturing GVA3, is also highly exposed to no deal. The chemicals, pharmaceuticals, rubber & plastics sector is set to be one of the hardest hit sectors in a no deal, with sectoral GVA estimated to be around 22% lower by 2034 than if today’s arrangements with the EU continued1. That is because chemicals sold or traded to the EU are highly regulated and for safety reasons would have to be carefully tracked and traced through a complex system that UK firms would have to go through twice.
As reported in the Sunderland Echo, Assistant director of policy at North East Chamber of Commerce, Jonathan Walker recently warned that a ‘no deal’ Brexit could see “death by a thousand cuts” for Sunderland firms
- The result of a no deal or disruptive Brexit, he argued, could affect future investment, disrupt supply chains and even see some businesses relocate.
- “When we have surveyed businesses in the region, among exporting businesses, the overwhelming majority want an outcome that keeps us in the single market or customs union or both. “This is for the very simple reason that goods flow freely across borders into Sunderland. “Any disruption to that trade fall we believe really exposes us to short-term disruption and risk but in the long-term makes Sunderland and the North East a less attractive place to invest in. “We have a lot of companies based here where this is their European presence and they’re there to serve a European market.
- “The reason we’re concerned is because the manufacturing sector in Sunderland is part of the jewel in the crown of the North East, we’re a region that continues to punch above its weight when it comes to export, particularly value.
In a recent statement, Nissan said:
‘Since 1986, the UK has been a production base for Nissan in Europe. Our British-based R&D and design teams support the development of products made in Sunderland, specifically for the European market.
Frictionless trade has enabled the growth that has seen our Sunderland plant become the biggest factory in the history of the UK car industry, exporting more than half of its production to the EU.
Today we are among those companies with major investments in the UK who are still waiting for clarity on what the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU will look like.
As a sudden change from those rules to the rules of the WTO will have serious implications for British industry, we urge UK and EU negotiators to work collaboratively towards an orderly balanced Brexit that will continue to encourage mutually beneficial trade.’
Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said in a recent statement:
‘’Leaving the EU, our biggest and most important trading partner, without a deal and without a transition period to cushion the blow would put this sector and jobs at immediate risk. ‘No deal’ must be avoided at all costs. Business needs certainty so we now need politicians to do everything to prevent irreversible damage to this vital sector.”
On Wednesday 9th January 2019 Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington & Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health spoke in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 Debate and vowed to vote against the Prime Minister’s deal on Tuesday.
Sharon was due to speak in the debate before Christmas recess, but it was suspended due to the Prime Minister abandoning her vote on the Brexit deal.
During the speech Sharon spoke about the abuse that some MPs have been receiving, including some directed at her in recent days and set out her reasons for voting against the Prime Minister’s deal when it is brought before the House next week.
‘Although I campaigned and voted to Remain in the European Union in the referendum, I have set out to respect the result of that vote and taken great care to listen to the concerns of my constituents as the process unfolds.
I cannot in good conscience vote for the Prime Minister’s deal, which in my mind represents the failure of her Governments approach to the negotiations. It does not protect jobs, workplace rights or environmental standards. It will not ensure frictionless trade for UK businesses and the lack of a clear future relationship also means the Northern Ireland backstop is highly likely to come into place, which would have significant implications across the UK.
Hundreds of my constituents have written to me in recent weeks urging me to vote against the deal, both those who voted to Leave the EU and those who voted to Remain.
Almost nothing of what was promised during the referendum campaign has been delivered and as such I will be voting against the Prime Minister’s Deal next week.’
You can read the full text of Sharon's contribution to the debate below:
Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab)
"As we have a little more time than I thought we would, before I get into the substance of my speech tonight I just want to start by thanking you, Mr Speaker, for your support with regard to the harassment and targeting of MPs on and around the estate. The abuse that the right hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry) and others on both sides of this House and this issue are being subjected to is truly despicable and genuinely worrying for the stability of our democracy. My worry is that the genie may be out of the bottle and the country may not heal for decades, no matter what happens here. That is why, as others have said, this is probably the most important decision and vote that I will have made in my almost 14 years as an MP, and perhaps may ever make.
I say this as I have had brought to my attention details of a threat that I have just received, calling me
“a traitor who should be hung for treason”.
This threat was not even made anonymously. It was made very publicly and traceably, and the man—I believe it is a man because I have seen a photograph of him—who made this threat must know that it is public and easily traceable, which makes this change in our national and political discourse all the more worrying. My crime that precipitated this threat was to be one of the 213 MPs of all parties to have signed the letter against crashing out without a deal—which we now know, after the vote last night and today, is the will of the majority of Members in this House. I say all this to reinforce the point about the pressure of the political climate that we are all operating in and dealing with. I know that none of us is taking any of this lightly at the moment.
Two years ago, over 62% of people in Sunderland voted to leave the European Union. That is an average across the three Sunderland constituencies. My canvassing told me at the time that the vote in my constituency may have been more in the region of 65% to 67%. The fact that—as I am sure you know, Mr Speaker—Nissan, the most productive car plant in the whole of Europe, is in my constituency explains why that first result on results night had the impact that it did on all of us, not just the three Sunderland MPs. I campaigned and voted to remain in the European Union, and did so because I believed that it was the best decision for the security, social cohesion and economy of the north-east and the country as a whole. Despite this, I recognised that a majority of my constituents had voted to leave, and I set out to respect the result of the referendum.
In that vein, I have largely refrained from commenting publicly on Brexit or speaking about it here—check Hansard!—choosing instead to listen to my constituents to understand the result, the vote. So I ran two surveys on Brexit. I took great care to read all of the significant amount of correspondence I received on the topic. I held three large public meetings. I engaged regularly with major employers in my constituency, such as Nissan, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and others, to hear their concerns about the process as it has unfolded over the past two years. Many of these companies, in particular, have been unnecessarily placed in a position by this Government where they are already spending vast sums of money on preparations for a no-deal scenario—something that none of us here will ever allow to happen.
Voting, and how one votes, is an extremely personal decision, and it would be wrong of us to claim to know exactly what led people to vote in the way that they did. We do know, however, what issues come up on the doorstep, in emails and letters, and through polls and surveys. We also know what was promised to people. As part of the survey that I ran last year—I ran one straight after the referendum and then one again last year—I asked people who had voted to leave in 2016 to rate a number of factors involved in their decision from “very important” to “unimportant”. The three issues with the highest number of people ranking them “very important” were, first, the principle that decisions about the UK should be taken in the UK; secondly, concerns that remaining would mean little or no choice about how the EU expanded its membership or powers; and thirdly, the incentive of trade opportunities outside the EU. It will be noticed that in this sample, immigration did not make the top three of the “very important” issues. It was an issue that people could choose but was actually near the bottom of the list in the final analysis. Make of that what you will.
During the referendum, people were also promised that voting to leave would mean more money for the NHS, more controls on immigration, and significant trade opportunities around the world—and ultimately that it would mean “taking back control”.
Mark Tami (Alyn and Deeside) (Lab)
Does my hon. Friend accept that they were also led to believe by the leave campaign that this would be a very simple process?
Absolutely. That would be one of the biggest ironies of any of our political careers, as we are all finding out that it is anything but simple. It has got to be the most complicated thing I have ever had to try to get my head around.
Can anyone in this place honestly say that the deal on offer delivers any of the things I have listed? Far from delivering back control, this deal means giving up our voice within the EU and becoming rule-takers until at least 2020, at which point the problematic backstop could come into place. The Government’s own analysis shows that the economic benefit of further trade deals around the world is minimal, will not come for a while and will be outweighed by GDP falling by around 3.9% under their deal.
With regard to immigration, the Government’s recent White Paper failed to provide overall clarity on the issue and included plans to disgracefully label workers on less than £30,000 a year as “low-skilled”. That policy will only contribute to existing staffing shortages in the NHS in particular, as it rules out nurses, care assistants and paramedics coming from abroad. As shadow Minister for Public Health, I am well placed to know that the much promised extra money for the NHS—remember the £350 million on the side of that big red bus?—could not be further from the truth.
It is no wonder that all this lack of clarity has left people on both sides of the debate hugely disappointed. Indeed, in recent weeks I have received hundreds of emails, letters and postcards regarding this deal, as I am sure every single Member of the House has. There are people who say that the Prime Minister’s deal fails to respect the result of the referendum and would like me to vote against it. There are people who would like me to vote against this deal and then push for a people’s vote. There are people who would like to bypass another vote altogether and for us to remain a member of the European Union. There are people who would like a Norway or Canada-style deal, and there are people who believe that we would now be better off leaving the EU without any deal at all.
However, it is astonishingly clear from the percentages of 87% to 13% that very few people would like me to vote for this deal. It is no wonder that almost 60% of those who took part in my survey now think that the electorate, as well as Parliament, should have to approve any deal agreed with the EU before it is ratified.
Almost nothing of what was promised and expected has been delivered. People who voted to leave the EU are not happy with this deal. People who voted to remain in the EU are not happy with this deal, and 87% of my constituents who contacted me about this deal are against it. As such, I will be voting against it when the question is put on Tuesday."
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Sharon Hodgson MP's report Nov-Dec 2018 number 110
Click on the picture above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Nov-Dec 2018 number 110
Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West, and Shadow Minister for Public Health releases results of her Brexit Survey, and vows to vote against Theresa May’s Brexit Deal in the Meaningful Vote in Parliament.
Between August and November 2018, Sharon Hodgson ran a Survey for her constituents on Brexit. The questions focussed on people’s reasons for their vote in 2016, and the potential future scenarios. Sharon is now releasing the results ahead of the planned historic Meaningful Vote in Parliament on the 11th of December.
The full results can be found here, along with some explanatory information about the Survey. Please see below, some of the key results from the Survey:
- The top three ‘Very Important’ factors for people voting to Leave in 2016 were:
85.77% - The principle that ‘decisions about the UK should be taken in the UK’ (particularly in relation to Law making)
67.53% - Concerns that remaining would mean little or no choice about how the EU expanded its membership or powers
61.54% - The incentive of trade opportunities outside of the EU
- The top three ‘Very Important’ factors for people voting to Remain in 2016 were:
82.72% - Concern that leaving the EU would be a risk to the UK economy, jobs and prices
64.12% - Retention of tariff free access to EU Markets
62.70% - Preserving the security and police cooperation between the EU and the UK
- 58.11% answered ‘Yes’ to the following question: For any exit deal to be ratified, Parliament must first vote in favour of it. Do you believe that the electorate should also have to approve a deal before it can be ratified?
- If Parliament rejects any deal with the EU, 25.04% of people think Brexit should be cancelled, 6.58% think the Government should ask for Article 50 to be extended, 16.05% think there should be another two-choice referendum on whether to Remain or Leave without a deal, 14.13% think there should be another three-choice referendum on whether to Remain, Accept the Government’s Deal to Leave, or Leave without a deal, 35.47% believe the UK should leave the EU without a deal, and 2.73% don’t know.
- In a ‘People’s Vote’ scenario, 58.59% of people would choose to Remain in the EU, 6.26% would choose to Leave the EU on the terms agreed to by the Government, 31.78% would choose to Leave without a deal, and 3.37% would not vote.
- When asked about various options for the EU Customs Union post Brexit, 50.4% of people want to Remain in the Existing Customs Union, and 26% want to negotiate a New Customs Partnership.
- When asked about various options for the EU Single Market post-Brexit, 38.36% of people would prefer to Remain in the Single Market (including accepting all conditions associated), 19.10% would prefer to negotiate a new arrangement with the Single Market, 15.25% would prefer to apply for Membership of EFTA, 23.72% of people want to Leave the Single Market, and 4.01% don’t know.
- When asked about immigration post-Brexit 41.73% of people would prefer to retain Freedom of Movement as it stands, and 33.39% of people would prefer a stricter visa system applying to people travelling from both inside and outside the EU.
‘The results of this Survey show that there continues to be a strong variety of opinion in my constituency when it comes to Brexit, and how the process has unfolded thus far.
It is clear however, that very few people are happy with the way in which the Government has handled the negotiations, and that there is little appetite for a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit scenario which would be disastrous for our region.
Of all those who took part in my survey, just under 60% believe that for any exit deal with the EU to be ratified, voters, as well as Parliament, should approve it.
Many people are also supportive of remaining in the Customs Union, and either remaining in the Single Market or negotiating a new arrangement with it.
After almost two years of negotiations, I believe that the Brexit deal the Prime Minister has agreed with the EU represents a complete failure of her approach, and the strong public feeling on this is reflected in the huge number of emails and letters I have received in recent days ahead of the Meaningful Vote.
I do not believe that this deal is in the national interest, and therefore intend to vote against the Prime Minister's deal in Parliament on 11 December, and support an Opposition amendment calling on Parliament to use all options to ensure we do not crash out without a deal.
If the Prime Minister’s deal is voted down next week, all options must be kept on the table.’
Over the past couple of days in Parliament, we have been voting on amendments to the EU (European Union) Withdrawal Bill.
As many people may be aware, I campaigned and voted to remain in the European Union. Despite this, I recognise that a majority of people voted to leave, and ultimately I respect the outcome of the referendum.
Respecting the result of the referendum however, does not mean giving Theresa May and the Conservative Government a blank cheque to force through a hard Brexit. It has been almost two years since the referendum took place, and the Government is still arguing about which negotiating position to take when it comes to important issues such as Customs, and Northern Ireland.
This chaotic instability is already damaging the economy, and putting people’s jobs at risk. The manufacturing industry has repeatedly warned that a failure to secure the right customs arrangement with the European Union could cause significant damage to the sector, and the economy more widely. Indeed the outgoing president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warned this week that without a Customs Union, ‘there are sectors of manufacturing society in the UK which risk becoming extinct.’
It appears as though the Government is continuing to ignore these warnings, with its dogged insistence that we must leave the Customs Union, regardless of the cost.
Manufacturing makes up an integral part of the fabric of our region, and I will always vote in the best interests of my constituents. That is why I voted for amendments to force the Government to negotiate a continued customs union with the EU, although unfortunately they did not pass.
One of the most significant drivers for people voting to leave the European Union was the desire for the country to take back control. Sadly, this has not been the case, and the fact that Parliament was given just two days to debate 15 amendments to the Bill is yet another example of how democracy is being side-lined in this extremely important process.
I firmly believe that as elected representatives, Members of Parliament must have a truly meaningful vote on the deal negotiated with the EU. That is why I voted to retain an amendment made in the House of Lords that strengthens the terms of this meaningful vote.
This would have made clear that, should the Government's proposed withdrawal deal be defeated, it is for Parliament to say what happens next, not the Prime Minister. Theresa May faced the prospect of a humiliating defeat on this amendment, and has now promised all things to all people with a proposal to discuss the details at a later stage.
I do not accept that leaving the European Union means accepting whatever deal the Government comes back with, regardless of the real human cost that a bad deal, or ‘no-deal’ scenario could have. I therefore await details of the concession made by the Prime Minister, and will hold the Government to account to ensure it lives up to the promises made in Parliament.
I would like to thank every constituent who has written to me on this extremely important matter, I will be replying individually in due course. I welcome contributions to this debate from everyone in Washington & Sunderland West, the process of leaving the European Union is a matter of national interest, and one that I take extremely seriously.
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Mar-Apr 2017 number 94
Click on picture above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Mar-Apr 2017 number 94
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Feb-Mar 2017 number 93
Read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Feb-Mar 2017 number 93
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Jan-Feb 2017 number 92
Read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Jan-Feb 2017 number 92