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Jack Simpson 's Journal column


Chamber policy adviser sets out latest Brexit news

Two weeks ago, Government the Brexit process hit another bump in the road, as Parliament voted on which of three different Brexit outcomes should be pursued, May’s Agreement, No Deal or Extending the Brexit negotiations.

First, Parliament voted on Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement. There is scepticism for the Agreement in the North East business community, not just about the content, but that it doesn’t outline our future European relationship.

Without this critical information, we would be binding ourselves to blind Brexit, a potentially harmful future, and business could face years of further uncertainty that would be impossible to plan for. In the end, May’s Agreement was defeated by 149 votes.

The Agreement’s defeat triggered a second vote on whether Parliament would support No Deal. The majority of members have been clear that a disorderly Brexit must be avoided at all costs, and the Chamber made sure to remind MPs of that last week.

We were pleased to see, therefore, MPs rejected No Deal by 43 votes. However, it does not rule it out completely, as the law still states that the UK must exit the European Union on March 29th. Therefore, the UK could accidently leave with No Deal, and we continue to campaign to avoid such a disastrous outcome.

This then led to a third and final vote on extending Brexit negotiations, or Article 50. This was approved by 210 votes, and was welcomed by many in the business community.

The Chamber has been campaigning for an extension of Article 50, as Government has isolated key stakeholders, like the business community from the Brexit process. An extension would give the Government the chance to build a new economic and political consensus that protects our long term prosperity.

Now, Theresa May plans to bring back her Brexit deal for a third time this week, and following that result, she will seek extension at the next EU summit. If the Agreement is passed, a short extension until May 22nd from the EU will be sought to pass proper legislation, whereas, if the Agreement is rejected again, May will ask for a longer extension, potentially for two years.

It seems clear, now, that something radical must change. Since the Agreement was brought before the Commons four months ago, not one word has changed to the Withdrawal Agreement, but business continue to be left in the dark, surely this cannot continue.