Today, we will be leaving the European Union. For many of us, this is a sad day. For others, this is a day celebrate. However you feel, today is momentous and it will change the future of our country forever.
Before I was elected as Member of Parliament for Manchester Gorton, I had the privilege to serve as a Member of European Parliament (MEP) for the North West. As an MEP, I experienced first-hand the positive impact of the EU and the dedication of British MEPs to getting the best deal for the UK. Working in Brussels, I developed many friendships with my European colleagues and I will always hold Europe close to my heart.
Three years of political strife and uncertainty, led by Tory incompetence, culminated in the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill becoming law last week. Then, earlier this week, the European Parliament also ratified the agreement. This means that, as of 11pm this evening, the UK will cease to be a member of the European Union.
Although the Prime Minister will be keen to declare he has now ‘Got Brexit Done’, we should be absolutely clear: Brexit is not done. We will now enter the transition period, and the real negotiations with the European Union are only just beginning.
Boris Johnson may have pushed his version of the Withdrawal Agreement over this line, but his deal is deeply flawed. It rules out a new customs union and a close future relationship with the single market, it explicitly states that there will now be new trade barriers with the EU and additional checks at borders, and the commitments on rights and protections are now significantly weaker.
I will continue to scrutinise the negotiations as we move forward and support MPs to ensure we don’t end up leaving the EU with a no deal at the end of the transition period on 31st December 2020. I will also work to ensure that we get Brexit right for everyone in the UK.
Crucially, I will work with colleagues to come together and look to the future with optimism. Only with a sense of unity and hope will we build a new, post-Brexit society that is welcoming, tolerant and fair.
But, this evening, I will reflect on my time as an MEP and be thinking of my friends across Europe as our future’s diverge. Despite our departure from the EU, the UK will always remain part of Europe.