James speaking on Brexit in Parliament
James speaking on Brexit in Parliament

Updated 21st December 2018

29 months since the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, the Prime Minister presented her draft deal to Parliament and the country.

I made clear at the election and since becoming your MP in June 2017 that I respected the result of the referendum.

Whilst I voted Remain I said I would support a Brexit that works for Bury and Britain.

Since my election, I’ve engaged with thousands of local people and employers on this most important issue.

Nearly 3,000 people have completed my two Brexit surveys, taking your views as this all unfolds.

Hundreds more of you have spoken to me on the doorstep and in coffee shops, meeting rooms and church halls at my public meetings across our brilliant town.

Well over 700 people have contacted me directly, including on social media, from all sides of the debate and I have engaged with every one of you.

I’ve listened to dozens of local employers and provided them with the opportunity of a roundtable meeting with Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary, Sir Keir Starmer.

Their primary concern was the protection of jobs in our town.

This remains mine.

A bad deal will cost jobs in Bury and that’s not something I will support.

On 15th November I spoke to BBC Radio 5Live on the PM’s deal. Listen below

Watch one of my parliamentary contributions on this issue from an earlier debate below

See my interview on Sky News with Faisal Islam on 28th November below

Here, and separately at private and public meetings, I keep your concerns and the welfare of our town uppermost in my mind.

The PM’s deal is a bad deal.

This was a point made from across the House during the statement on 15th November which dismissed it.

It doesn’t deliver on the promises made to those who voted Leave.

And offers instead half-baked proposals, a veto for the EU on the UK leaving, risks the integrity of the UK on Northern Ireland and offers a pathetic amount of detail on our future relationship as we all try to move forward.

This is not a deal Bury should sign up to.

It doesn’t protect jobs, rights and living standards for people in our town.

Asking us instead to hurtle into the unknown without reassurances for anyone.

People may say “just get on with it”, but the choice is not between Theresa May’s deal or no deal. And no one voted to be worse off.

Now the Prime Minister has cut short the debate and pulled the vote on her deal as it became abundantly clear that it doesn’t have the support of the majority of MPs.

Watch my speech in the emergency debate called on 11th December following the Prime Minister’s cancellation of the vote on her deal

I believe it is incumbent on the government to now work across all parties for a better deal that protects jobs, rights and our economy.

However, the Prime Minister has proven herself unwilling or unable to do that. After cancelling the meaningful vote she fled to Europe to seek further assurances from EU leaders. Her pleas fell on deaf ears.

Despite this, she has refused to schedule a meaningful vote at the earliest opportunity so that MPs can express our view and we can then move forward on an alternative plan that truly unites the country.

The government is now spending billions of pounds on contingency planning for no deal, despite this having virtually no support in Parliament or the country. She has scheduled the meaningful vote for the last possible minute before the legal deadline in January and I believe her aim is to try to scare MPs into voting for her deal or face no deal. As I have said, I believe this to be a confection. These are not the only two options available and the PM has been reckless and irresponsible in spending two years running down the clock before presenting a bad deal at the last minute.

If the Prime Minister cannot deliver an alternative plan then I believe she should seek further instruction from the public. She is however determined to plough on with her disastrous deal.

See below my intervention during the Prime Minister’s last statement to the House on 17th December

We must urgently address the reasons why people voted to Leave.

It’s why I am passionate about Labour’s plan to rebuild our economy.

Let’s end austerity, invest in our communities, safeguard local jobs, rights and standards and put power and investment back into our towns and communities.

Britain needs a say in all its future trade deals with the world, a new comprehensive customs union with the EU and an approach which supports Bury businesses, jobs and the manufacturing supply chains they depend on.

The relationship with the single market needs to tend to the interests first of workers in Britain whilst ensuring businesses the continued access to vital European markets for both goods and services.

The PM’s deal mentions nothing of workers’ rights, as I warned against.

I want those guarantees alongside protections for consumers and our environment.

I have said before, I imagine all those I represent on both my shoulders – left and right – and consider our town’s reactions in response to this and every action of this Government. Of course we’ll have some different views but I know as your MP we’ve a shared faith in fairness and an ambition to move forward, united.

I’ll keep standing up for what’s right for us as a town and what we need to thrive.

These are testing and difficult times with harder days to come, but let’s remain strong; believing in and arguing for what’s best for Bury and Britain.

James Frith

Labour MP for Bury North

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