On her decision to vote in favour of the bill, Rushanara Ali MP said:
“I campaigned tirelessly in the 2016 referendum for the UK to remain in the European Union because we were better off within the EU than outside. Unfortunately we lost that referendum. I later voted against triggering Article 50 in 2017, as I felt it was important for the government of the day to have a credible plan for securing a deal that would cause least harm to people’s livelihoods before triggering Article 50 and running down the clock. I also campaigned for a confirmatory referendum vote on Theresa May’s EU Withdrawal deal, and supported a number of options for a soft Brexit when indicative votes were presented to the House of Commons in 2019. Unfortunately, all of these options were rejected.
There is no doubt that the Government’s Trade and Co-operation Agreement has huge shortcomings ranging from its failure to address the future of trade in services, to the decision to pull the UK out of the Erasmus programme. UK firms will lose their automatic access to EU financial services markets through passporting. This raises the risk of firms moving jobs to the EU in the medium-term if there are no provisions to stabilise decision making. It is therefore critical that the government builds on the agreement to put UK financial services firms on a more secure footing.
Today’s vote is not about leave or remain. It is about whether to back the implementation of a thin deal or allow the country to face an even more damaging no-deal Brexit. By running down the clock on the transition period, the Prime Minister has left us between a rock and a hard place. As a result, faced with the looming threat of no deal, the Government’s deal is the lesser of two evils. That is why, I have voted in favour of implementing this trade agreement.
Businesses in the UK, who are already suffering massively from the COVID-19 pandemic need stability and clarity. I have consistently campaigned against a no-deal Brexit. At a Treasury Select Committee session this year, in response to my questioning, the Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, concurred with London School of Economics analysis that the economic cost of a no-deal Brexit could be 2-3 times larger than the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic on the UK economy. This is a terrifying prospect which had to be avoided.
I will continue to campaign for a close relationship between the UK and the European Union, which builds on this trade agreement to promote trade, environmental protection and workers’ rights.”