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Welsh MP resigns as Labour PPS over EU trade deal vote

30 Dec 2020 4 minute read
Tonia Antoniazzi. Picture y Chris McAndrew (CC BY 3.0).

Gower’s Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi has resigned as a Labour PPS over the vote for the EU trade deal.

She abstained on the bill after Labour MPs were whipped to vote for it. 37 Labour MPs defied the whip by either abstaining or voting against the Brexit deal, joining Plaid Cymru, the SNP and the Liberal Democrat MPs in the ‘no’ lobby.

MPs, however, backed the government’s deal with the EU by 521 votes to 73 – a majority of 448.

The bill has now completed its passage through the Commons and will head to the House of Lords.

Tonia Antoniazzi was a PPS to Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Jonathan Reynolds.

This is the second time Antoniazzi has resigned over Brexit. In June 2018, she and five other Labour MPs resigned their roles as frontbenchers for the Labour Party in protest at Labour’s Brexit position.


Resignation letter

“It is with the deepest regret that I find myself writing to you to tender my resignation as PPS to both the shadow teams for Work and Pensions and for Scotland,” she wrote to Labour leader Keir Starmer.

“It has been a privilege to serve in your shadow team for two excellent shadow Secretaries of State. My resignation is offered because I cannot support the decision to vote in favour of the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill. I will be abstaining.

“This has not been an easy decision for me to take, and I continue to support your leadership. When I was elected to represent Gower I pledged to my constituents to never vote for anything that would make them worse off. This is a promise that I believe I have upheld throughout the entire difficult Brexit process.

“I cannot in good conscience vote for European Union (Future Relationship) Bill which will make this country poorer, affect people’s ability to work and live in the EU, and hamper our ability to trade with the world’s largest single market, and our closest neighbours.

“Electors from other parties such as Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, and even moderate Conservatives lent me their votes in 2017 and in 2019. They understood and respected my view on leaving the EU, and my promise that I would not vote to make my constituents a penny poorer.

“They did this in good faith, and I will not betray their trust now. This is not thwarting Brexit, or going against the will of the people, this is purely a trade deal with our former partners. If we were offered this deal for any future trading arrangement with another country, we would reject it, therefore I cannot support this deal.

“My constituency depends on tourism, farming and fisheries – any barriers to these industries are going to destroy them. The EU (Future Relationship) Bill is a step backwards for our country. This deal is nothing close to what it is being sold to the British public, and it does not meet Labour’s six tests for a Brexit deal.

“This Conservative Government led by Boris Johnson has lied to the British public, not only over Brexit but during the pandemic. They promise the world and deliver nothing, as witnessed by us all throughout Covid-19.

“The language, behaviours, disrespect and chumocracy that the country has had to endure from this Government will continue if we endorse their actions in any way. That is why I cannot give my support to the Bill.

“I can understand the argument you have made for voting in favour, but this deal is not good enough for Britain, not good enough for Gower, and not good enough for me to vote for.”

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