This week the Government confirmed the European parliamentary elections will go ahead. No one expected them, but they have become a reality following the Government’s failure to reach a satisfactory Brexit deal.
Last month the European Union granted the UK a six-month extension to Brexit and set out that the UK would have to hold EU elections if no Brexit deal was agreed by 22 May. The Government has now formally conceded that time has run out.
The Government’s shambolic handling of Brexit has caused huge uncertainty for people, businesses and jobs. I want to see a different plan for Brexit which protects jobs, living standards and communities and lets us focus on the other big issues facing our country.
My preferred plan would seek a close and cooperative relationship with the EU, including a new comprehensive customs union with a UK say, close single market alignment, guaranteed rights and standards, and the protection of the Good Friday peace agreement in Northern Ireland.
This week talks continued between the Government and Opposition to try to break the deadlock in Parliament over the terms of withdrawing from the EU.
These talks are the right thing to do to see if a better deal can be found: one that would see us leave the EU but keep a close relationship with our major trading partners.
If a sensible deal cannot be found, along the lines of my preferred plan, all options should remain on the table including the option of a public vote.
So far in these talks, there has been no big offer from the Government, which still needs to move on its "red lines" to reach a compromise.