Whitfield – let’s prove we’re the party of workers

*This article first appeared in the Edinburgh Evening News on 24/05/18*

By Martin Whitfield
Labour MP for East Lothian

NEARLY two-third of voters in East Lothian backed Remain in the EU referendum because they recognised how important it is for our local economy.
Since becoming an MP, I have consistently opposed a hard Brexit and fought to protect jobs in East Lothian because I was elected as a representative of the workers’ party: the Labour Party.
That’s why it’s so worrying that my own party now appears ready to embrace Theresa May’s vision of a cliff-edge Brexit.
In the House of Lords, Labour peers defeated the Tory government over Britain’s membership of the European Economic Area (EEA). That’s the area which provides for the European Single Market and includes EU members and non-EU members like Norway. It is vital for 80,000 jobs in Scotland, guarantees workers’ rights such as parental leave, and enables economic growth which would allow a Labour government to end Tory austerity.
In the coming weeks, following the victory in the Lords, the House of Commons will have a vote on EEA membership.
It’s not a perfect solution as the only way to prevent any job losses would be to remain in the EU, but it is the least-worst option on the table.
Labour is in opposition and we can’t simply talk about negotiating a better deal – that’s not within our power. What is within our power, however, is EEA membership. That’s because other opposition parties will vote for it and there are enough Tory rebels ready to join us.
The ball is in Jeremy Corbyn’s court.
Whatever happens, I will do what’s best for the people of East Lothian and will vote against a hard Brexit.
I urge all my colleagues on the Labour benches to do the same and prove that we truly are the party of the workers.

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