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May Has Broken Promises Again And Again - Can We Ever Trust Her On Brexit?

03/05/2017 17:18
POOL New / Reuters

It seems that the Tory party can't get enough of elections. In some parts of the country this will be the fourth year in a row people have had to go to the polls on an issue of national importance. At least though with previous votes there has been warning. Voters have had months to brace themselves for the incoming onslaught of politics through their televisions, newsfeeds and doorsteps. This time is different though. Theresa May has called a snap election after months of saying that she doesn't think there's a 'need' for one. This means one of two things. Either all it takes to change the fundamental opinions of the Prime Minister of the UK is a walk in Snowdonia or, she's been lying to us all along.

Neither of these realities are good going into our negotiations with the EU. If we have a Prime Minister who is quick to change her mind then how can negotiators pursue clear aims? What's to stop May flip-flopping on access to the Single Market or membership of the Customs' Union at any point in negotiations? If she's been misleading the public, then how do we know what we are getting from Brexit? The Prime Minister has never been particularly clear on this. She's constantly claiming that "Brexit means Brexit" or that we will have a "red, white and blue Brexit" but is scant on detail. From what little she has offered people she looks to be going for the most chaotic of exits. But no one can say with much confidence what she plans for this country.

Despite this Theresa May wants to make the election all about Brexit. She's telling voters that she is the only one who can deliver a successful Brexit. But how can people trust the Prime Minister if she has a track record of going against her word? We can have no confidence in anything she says on her negotiating position. This is a Prime Minister who has not only misinformed the public on an election, but also gone back on a Conservative manifesto pledge not to increase National Insurance as well as trying to force through a Grammar school programme that was not once mentioned in the 2015 Tory campaign. It has become clear that you cannot trust the Conservatives to deliver any Brexit that they claim to stand for.

Theresa May has said that a vote for her will "strengthen her hand" and she's right. But it will not strengthen her hand against the EU. Why would the EU care if she has a large majority in a country that no longer wants to be a member? Instead she is seeking to strengthen her hand against the British people. She believes that if she has a larger majority she will have carte blanche to go back on her words whenever she chooses. Free in the knowledge that her majority would be big enough to absorb any rebellion by MPs who care about getting a good deal while she pursues Brexit at any cost. A vote for May is handing her a blank cheque.

Together with most Labour voters, I don't want to leave the EU. I believe we would be committing an act of self-harm of monumental scale. However, with May at the lead, Labour has been consistent and clear on our scrutiny of the Brexit process. Keir Starmer MP has put forward six 'red lines' that we will be judging negotiations by and at every stage we will hold the government to account for any failings on this. But he's also clear that a future Labour government would handle the negotiations in a totally different way: rather than name-calling and grandstanding, we would engage constructively to ensure a mutually fair settlement and a good future relationship.

That is why a vote for Labour on 8 June is so important. Brexit will be one of the most difficult processes in modern British history. It will also have one of the biggest impacts on ordinary people. The country needs a government that is not willing to be duplicitous in its intentions. That is honest in its ambitions to deliver a constructive relationship with our neighbours that protects jobs and rights for people across the country, regardless of if they voted leave or remain.

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