The European Union granted the UK a further extension in the Brexit process on Thursday, with a new deadline of 31st October. This extension can end sooner, whenever the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified.
While this second extension removes the immediate threat of a No Deal exit from the EU, we still need to find a way to break the impasse in Parliament. For a long time, the Prime Minister has stuck rigidly to a flawed plan, running down the clock. Our country has been left in limbo, with businesses, workers and people across the UK facing deep uncertainty.
I welcome that the Prime Minister finally decided to reach out to the Opposition last week by opening talks to try to find a breakthrough. However, I believe the fact this invitation came days after the Prime Minister missed the original Brexit deadline of 29 March reflects the Government’s fundamental error in not proceeding with consensus.
The Leader of the Opposition has said the talks have been serious, detailed and are ongoing. However, if they are to be a success, resulting in an agreement that can bring the country back together, the Government will have to compromise. Any agreement that is reached must also be entrenched, given the current Prime Minister has said she will step down once a deal has passed and we have no idea who will replace her.
I respect the 2016 referendum and I am committed to defending jobs, industry and living standards. I believe this requires a close economic relationship with the EU and securing frictionless trade with improved rights and standards. If that is not possible, all options should remain on the table including the option of a public vote.
It is incumbent on all of us now to find a way forward and if the Government is serious its red lines must move. I look forward to seeing how the talks progress over the coming days and weeks to find a deal that can command the confidence of Parliament and, importantly, the public.