I campaigned strongly for us to remain in the EU, but we lost the referendum and therefore have to respect the outcome. The task now is to work towards securing the best deal for Britain.
In the months ahead it will be vital for us as the Opposition to scrutinise the Government as it negotiates the UK's withdrawal agreement with the EU. We have already set out a number of our own red lines on employment, environmental and social protection, and on access to the European market.
The current protections for workers provided by the EU must be maintained. UK businesses which depend on trade with Europe need to be able to continue to sell goods without tariffs and we need access for our service industries. On environmental protection, the Government must identify and fill any legislative gaps in environmental protection that may arise from the removal of EU law. It is also crucial that the residency rights of EU citizens currently living or working in the UK, and those of UK citizens in the EU, are protected. You may also have seen that the Shadow Foreign Secretary recently committed the Opposition to making up any shortfall in structural funding for our regions from the EU into the 2020s and beyond.
I think we all are increasingly concerned by the Government's apparent lack of planning for a Leave vote. The Prime Minister has now outlined when she wishes Article 50 to be invoked, but this doesn’t mean much unless the Government can answer all the prior and more fundamental questions about what they are trying to achieve.
In my view the Government doesn’t yet have a well thought-out plan covering all the points many people have raised, and so it is risking economic uncertainty for the country. This is a matter of national interest and I can assure you that I will be following developments very closely.
Hilary Benn MP