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John Cryer
6 Gainsborough Road
Leytonstone
London
E11 1HT
Tel: 0208 9895249
Covering

EU Referendum

Brexit Update

Thank you for contacting me about the issues surrounding Brexit. You may not have contacted me recently about Brexit, but I am sending this to anyone who has contacted me about the issue. I have received many hundreds of emails throughout the year on this issue, sometimes dozens a day. In some cases it has taken some time to respond due to the sheer volume of correspondence but I have tried to answer each email and letter and to respond to each question.

As we approach the end of the year I and my team are also dealing with the usual rise in contacts from vulnerable people over housing, health and benefits issues - people who will not be able to contact many agencies over the Christmas period and may otherwise be without help, advice, money and benefits. 

It has been quite some couple of weeks. The nation and parliament had the impression that the Prime Minister would bring her Brexit deal to the House of Commons. Obviously that did not happen as she decided to pull the vote, then said it would happen in January and gave a vague promise that there would be re-negotiations which do not seem to be happening in any meaningful way.

The government seems to be inching closer to collapse almost every day. The prime minister's deal is opposed on all sides and the attempt to supress the Attorney General's legal advice was misconceived and served no useful purpose that I can see. There does not seem to be anything in the advice that remotely affected national security so why the government chose that path can only be wondered at.

The negotiations have been conducted incompetently for two years; Michel Barnier and the rest of the EU side have run rings around the government, in particular using the border in Ireland very successfully as a bargaining chip.
 
I am very much opposed to the prime minister's deal. Britain has never signed up to a treaty from which it is unable to extricate itself unilaterally (including the Treaty of Rome and every other EU country) and I doubt any other country would put itself in such an invidious position.
 
I am an internationalist and always have been. That means working openly with countries with whom we have a great deal in common. We cannot turn inward and ignore the rest of the world and I don’t think we will.

East London has always welcomed migrants and hopefully always will. That's what makes Leyton and Wanstead such an interesting place. Leaving the EU must not change that and there is no reason why it should.
 
I have never been shy on my views on the European Union. As I have previously said I took no part in any campaign during the referendum not had any connection to any such campaign. I exercised my right to vote as any other individual did. I did not vote Leave because I am a nationalist or a bigot as some people have suggested when contacting myself or my office. People voted Leave for a huge variety of reasons; in my case due to the EU's lack of democracy, accountability and transparency. I have always supported the right of EU nationals to remain in Britain and I have supported two campaigns to that effect. 

I recognise that 59.1% of voters in Waltham Forest and 54% of voters in Redbridge supported remaining in the EU, but this was a national referendum. Many people who voted to remain acknowledge that their view did not prevail in the referendum, and now want the process to be fulfilled as effectively as possible. Many of my colleagues across the House of Commons voted Remain (some actively campaigning) but the areas they represent frequently voted to Leave.

Many have raised with me the desirability of a second referendum. While I can see why this is being put forward I cannot agree. I believe that the continual raising of this prospect has done no good in persuading the EU negotiators to offer us a good deal as they want see the UK reject the opportunity to leave. It would also be a catastrophic blow to the confidence that millions of people have in our democracy if having made a decision they were told to try again until they gave the "correct" answer. There is little evidence thus far that substantial numbers of Leave voters have changed their minds, the polling I have seen shows such small samples of voters per constituency and it is impossible to extrapolate a reasonable conclusion from it. MPs now have an obligation to implement this national decision. I do not see a second referendum as some sort of magic bullet that will get us out of an extremely difficult situation - simple solutions to complicated situations are often anything but. My fear is that another plebiscite would divide the country even more deeply and bitterly than the situation we have now. I am always prepared to listen to arguments, unlike, I might add, some people on both sides who are just not listening. However, the above is a very real fear, certainly without any really profound evidence that Brexit areas have seen a shift in opinion.

I want to see a future that addresses the inequalities in our society. These should range from new trade deals with the parts of the world that will form the majority of growth in the global economy this century (as opposed to the EU bloc, which is growing the slowest), to changing our immigration rules so that we no longer discriminate against people from Africa, the Caribbean and Asia as we currently do. Other opportunities will exist for us to implement better agricultural, fishing, and animal welfare standards, as well as giving us the freedom to support industry and renationalise public services in a way that the EU currently forbids us from doing. None of these benefits are guaranteed of course; they will be dependent on the decisions made by future governments. But they will be our governments, elected by the voters and can be voted out of office by the British people if they disagree with their decisions. The most powerful EU decision-makers - such as the council of ministers and those who run the commission and the ECB - cannot be removed by voters.
 
When the deal is finally put before parliament I would expect the prime minister to lose although an awful lot can change between now and then. However, in the event of a government defeat I would expect the Labour Party to table a no-confidence motion in the government. There is a narrow chance of winning that, which may just be the first step toward seeing a Labour government which can deal with the terrible consequences of eight years of austerity.
 
Best wishes,
 
John Cryer



Why I voted against The Great Repeal Bill

Many readers will know that the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill ? also known as the Brexit Bill - has now been published and that Labour MPs voted against it in the House of Commons on the evening of Monday September 11th. We also voted against the programme motion which laid down the timetable for the parliamentary debate. That timetable only allows eight days for the debate (contrast that with more than 40 days for the Maastricht Treaty Bill in the early nineties).

The Bill is a spectacular power-grab by a government which abhors parliamentary scrutiny and opposition and, of course, called an election in the hope that the Labour Party would be crushed and therefore such opposition would simply not be there.

This is an example of just how authoritarian the Bill is: it allows for secondary legislation to be passed by a small committee with a government majority in the future. That committee would have the power to amend this Bill without the issue going to the House of Commons.

In other words, ministers have planted clauses in the legislation to allow that same legislation to be changed by the back door by their own MPs. The Bill is littered with such clauses and therefore is simply not worth the paper it is written on.

It also allows a minister to determine the exact date on which we leave the EU, again without any reference to parliament.

The above are just three reasons why I believe we were right to oppose the Bill and the programme motion.

I have always been very critical of the European Union and believe the referendum of last year should be respected and that the result creates a democratic imperative to leave the EU.

However, what the government is proposing is to take dictatorial powers, ignore parliament and push through whatever they like.

This should not happen in a real democracy. Sadly, we lost the vote in parliament so we now have to try and amend the Bill. The shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, will be putting down loads of amendments as he has done before.

It remains to be seen whether any of them will be successful.

Brexit/Article 50

I have had many people contact me about this issue. Principally after the referendum and then in the last few weeks and days. Emails and letters have been both for and against Brexit. As I have said previously, I voted leave although I took no part in the campaign. Although this was a difficult decision, I took it because I see the EU as unaccountable and undemocratic.

In this age of online petitions and 38 degrees online campaigns I can understand that a growing number of constituents expect their views not only to be respected and listened to but also acted upon. I acknowledge that. I have received several emails which are pretty robust along the lines of ‘you will do as you are told’. And yet, as unfashionable as it may be, MPs are still representatives, not delegates. It is our duty to exercise our judgement on behalf of our constituents and the wider electorate, on that basis, to vote for what we believe to be the right decision in any given situation - even when that decision risks condemnation or being at odds with significant numbers of those we represent.

We are also accountable and must be prepared to set out the reasoning behind any decision we take. As a Labour MP representing a constituency that voted to remain, I feel a particular responsibility to set out why I think voting to block the triggering of Article 50 would have been mistaken, and why I therefore did not vote against the Bill at second or third reading.

Parliament passed the Referendum Bill by a huge majority and that Bill made it clear that the final decision would be left with the voters. 

MPs and peers repeated this and said the outcome would be respected. The same thing was said in the booklet that was delivered to every home in the country. The referendum then delivered a clear majority of 1 million for Brexit. While London voted for remain the plebiscite was not regional but national.

I therefore felt I could not vote against triggering article 50.

And if the referendum had been rejected by MPs blocking article 50, it would only have increased cynicism and distrust of politics, after all the promises that had been made.

As I have said, we must hold the Government to account and not give them a blank cheque. The Bill on Brexit has only just been published, therefore our amendments have only just been written. Our amendments sought to: 

i) Allow a meaningful vote in Parliament on the final Brexit deal. Labour’s amendment would ensure that the House of Commons has the first say on any proposed deal and that the consent of Parliament would be required before the deal is referred to the Council of Ministers and Parliament.

ii) Establish a number of key principles the Government must seek to negotiate during the process, including protecting workers’ rights, securing full tariff and impediment free access to the Single Market.

iii) Ensure there is robust and regular Parliamentary scrutiny by requiring the Secretary of State to report to the House at least every two months on the progress being made on negotiations throughout the Brexit process

iv) Guarantee legal rights for EU nationals living in the UK. Labour has repeatedly called for the Government to take this step, and this amendment would ensure EU citizens’ rights are not part of the Brexit negotiations.

v) Require the Government to consult regularly with the governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland throughout Brexit negotiations. Labour’s amendment would put the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) on a statutory footing and require the UK Government to consult the JMC at least every two months

vi) Require the Government to publish impact assessments conducted since the referendum of any new proposed trading relationship with the EU. This amendment seeks to ensure there is much greater clarity on the likely impact of the Government’s decision to exit the Single Market and seek new relationship with the Customs Union

vii) Ensure the Government must seek to retain all existing EU tax avoidance and evasion measures post-Brexit

There is also the possibility that we may table more amendments as the Bill progresses. I for example will be discussing with the front bench both the legal rights of EU nationals living and working in the UK, but also UK nationals living and working in the EU and things such as property and health reciprocal arrangements. 

EU Referendum

Dear Constitutent, 

The voice of the majority of the British people has been heard and we are to leave the European Union.
 This was the British people’s opportunity to make an informed decision on our country’s future and they turned out in great numbers to do so. Although I have long-held, strong views on this, I do not feel that the people of this country should take their cues from a politician like me on an issue as important as this and should instead look at the facts and make their own minds up. This was a massive moment for Britain. For that reason, while I stated my views plainly to anybody who asked, I did not campaign in the referendum but exercised my right to vote.   

I voted to leave, not because I am a nationalist or xenophobe but because I am a socialist and a democrat. In my considered view, the EU is not Europe but an elitist and largely unaccountable construct which has undermined democratic governments and is too closely linked to the corporate world. Real power rests with the European Commission and the Council of Ministers, both of which are undemocratic and in the case of the council meets in secret. The European Court of Justice – not to be confused with the European Court of Human Rights whose existence I support – enforces their decisions and consistently rules in the interests of big business and against trade unionists. Continued membership of the EU would have made it harder for a future Labour government to protect workers’ rights, renationalise the railways or maintain a universal Royal Mail service.
   

I represent a multi-cultural and diverse community with residents from all backgrounds and nationalities. My views on the EU have nothing to do with my work as a local MP which is to serve all my constituents, to fight for every constituent – regardless of their voting history or record and what is their place birth, nationality or mother tongue. I would hate to think that any EU nationals among my constituents would feel unwelcome or undervalued by the outcome of this referendum, and I want them to know how much I appreciate the contribution that they make to our public services, to our economy and to our communities. Their presence here is absolutely not my problem with the EU. 
  

I may have voted to leave the EU, but that is no endorsement of the official Vote Leave campaign or of Nigel Farage and associates, both of whom contributed a shamefully divisive tone to this referendum at times. As I have said, I did not campaign alongside these people, but cast my vote according to my sincerely held beliefs. 
 

The vote has shown big differences across the country, including London. Many families, friendships and communities have been put under immense strain. We now need to look at why people have voted in this way – some will have voted for similar reasons to me, many will have voted for all sorts of reasons. The ‘political class’ needs to now listen, learn and understand these reasons and try to bring the country together. It will not be easy, but it is what we must do
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