Liberal Democrat challenge to new Rutherglen Labour MP

1st July 2017

Rutherglen and Hamilton West Labour MP Gerard Killen has been challenged by local Liberal Democrats to explain his position on Europe after he abstained on an amendment to the Queen’s Speech which could have stopped a hard Brexit, kept the United Kingdom in the European Single Market and the Customs Union, and made sure that the views of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were taken account of.

Rutherglen Liberal Democrat Councillor Robert Brown said the Labour Party were all over the place on Brexit and were in practice giving the Conservative Government a free run on the issue which would be most damaging to local people.

Robert Brown said:

“At the General Election, people rejected Theresa May’s view that Britain should not just come out of the European Union, but also abandon the Customs Union and the Single Market which are so important to business and jobs in Scotland. There should now be every prospect of being able to stop the Tory hard Brexit and salvage something from this impending disaster.

All 12 Liberal Democrat MPs voted for an amendment by Labour MP Chuka Umunna in support of staying in the Single Market and the Customs Union. 51 Labour MPs defied the Party Whip to do the same. The rest were ordered by Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn to abstain.

I was glad to see Gerard Killen made his maiden speech during the debate – and I congratulate him on that. During his speech, he mentioned his concerns about austerity. Brexit will guarantee ongoing austerity for years to come and I am therefore astonished that Gerard Killen sat on his hands and abstained on this issue. I appreciate he was under orders from Jeremy Corbyn but it leaves his own position in great doubt.

I am very clear that the voters of Rutherglen and Hamilton West – who voted strongly to stay in the European Union last year – did not expect their new MP to give Theresa May and the Conservatives a free run on their Brexit plans. It is gravely disappointing that the Labour Party have proved so weak on fighting for our European links.

I hope Gerard Killen will tell us clearly what exactly the Labour Party are up to on Europe. It is one of the mysteries of our time!”

Text of Queen’s Speech Amendment:

Amendment proposed: at the end of the Question to add:

“but respectfully regret that the Gracious Speech does not rule out withdrawal from the EU without a deal, guarantee a Parliamentary vote on any final outcome to negotiations, set out transitional arrangements to maintain jobs, trade and certainty for business, set out proposals to remain within the Customs Union and Single Market, set out clear measures to respect the competencies of the devolved administrations, and include clear protections for EU nationals living in the UK now, including retaining their right to remain in the UK, and reciprocal rights for UK citizens.”—(Mr Umunna.)

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