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Another week in Parliament dominated by Brexit

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Apologies to anyone who now feels they've heard enough about Brexit. But my week in parliament has been dominated by it once again. 

On Monday, the Prime Minister made a statement about the deal she agreed in Brussels last Friday. It covered the rights of EU citizens in the UK (and UK citizens in EU countries) after Brexit; how goods and people will move across the Irish border in future; and what the divorce bill will cost.

Along with dozens of other MPs, I went in to the chamber to find out more about all this. I asked the Prime Minister whether manufacturers in Stretford and Urmston who export to the Republic of Ireland would be treated as favourably as manufacturers in Northern Ireland in future. I didn't get much of an answer to my question (nothing new there), but I was pretty shocked at the number of Tory MPs who seem to think it would be ok for the UK to leave the EU with no deal at all.

To be fair, I think the Prime Minister did a sensible deal last week, to align our regulations to the rest of the EU when we leave. It's so important that our businesses can continue to trade with EU customers and suppliers, that we can continue to cooperate on cross-border policing and security, and that rules on everything from nuclear hazards, to pension rights if you retire to another EU country, to when lorry drivers need to take rest breaks if they're driving between the UK and the continent, are in place to keep us all secure and safe.

But Tory Brexiteers weren't happy, and they suffered another setback on Wednesday when parliament voted by a tiny majority of 4 to insist that MPs must have a final say before the exit deal is concluded. If we don't think what's negotiated is in the interests of our constituents, we need to be able to tell ministers to go back to the negotiating table and get a better deal. A number of brave Tory MPs voted with Labour to ensure we have this final say, and there was huge excitement when the result of the vote was announced. 

Or, to be accurate, there was huge excitement even before the result was announced. You can tell which side has won a vote in the House of Commons by the order in which the tellers for each side line up in front of the Clerks. We could all see the tellers for the 'ayes' were in the winning position, and cheers and applause broke out.

Tory Brexiteers still weren't happy on Thursday, when the routine question session to Brexit ministers came along. I asked about analyses which have apparently been carried out by the Treasury on the different scenarios for our exit from the EU. What did they show and how were Brexit ministers making use of them? I didn't get an answer to those questions either.

Thankfully, I haven't spent absolutely all my time on Brexit - thanks to some great organisations and individuals who came to parliament to meet me this week. I was delighted to host Kellogg's school breakfast club awards; to welcome Open Doors, which campaigns against persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East; and to meet campaigners from Guide Dogs, who came along with adorable 19-week old puppy Barnaby, and his friend 18-week old William (who isn't in the photo because he'd fallen fast asleep)! 

 

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