Newton Aycliffe MP Phil Wilson is one of five North-East parliamentarians who have broken ranks with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, demanding a “people’s vote” on Brexit negotiations.
Mr Wilson, the MP for Sedgefield which includes Aycliffe as the constituency’s biggest town, has joined four other Labour MPs in claiming a new vote is essential “because the true nature of Brexit is only just emerging”.
Writing in The Independent, they warn plans to leave the single market will devastate family living standards as the future of major manufacturers and employers in their region is thrown into doubt.
Mr Wilson is joined by Stockton South’s Paul Williams, Redcar’s Anna Turley, Newcastle North’s Catherine McKinnell and Houghton and Sunderland South’s Bridget Phillipson in the calls.
The group insists it doesn’t want a re-run of the Brexit referendum, but with most projections showing the UK worse off outside the EU’s existing structures, the five have decided to publicly contradict their leader’s position and call for a “people’s vote” on the eventual deal.
They add: “The outcome of the negotiations will affect the North-East and the United Kingdom for decades to come.
“Because this is so important, we believe the British people should have their say on the final Brexit deal.
“Just as the people had their say in the referendum in 2016, we believe the final decision on this country’s destiny should lie with the British people in a people’s vote.”
The MPs in particular highlight how firms like Hitachi in Aycliffe, Nissan in Sunderland and those in the chemicals industry on Teesside, providing thousands of jobs, see their future within the EU customs union and single market – which both Conservative and Labour leaderships are committed to quitting.
Mr Wilson, who campaigned heavily to Remain in 2016, said: “We are now two years on from the referendum, and there are now issues and facts that were not known when people voted. The circumstances have changed.
“For example, when we voted we didn’t know anything about the £40bn divorce bill, and we now know that we are not going to receive £350m a week for the NHS.
“And we now know the impact it is likely to have on jobs, particularly here in the North-East, if we are outside the customs union.
“This is bigger than party. It is about the future of the country. The people might agree with the deal, but it has to be their decision.”
The move by Mr Wilson and his colleagues comes after 83 Labour peers defied Mr Corbyn’s will on Tuesday and voted for an amendment to Ms May’s EU Withdrawal Bill that would effectively keep Britain in the EU’s single market.
The amendment will now come to the Commons, but Conservative rebels will need Labour support to get it through.