I campaigned relentlessly for the UK to stay in the European Union. I made the case to hundreds of people at dozens of meetings and, with a great team of volunteers, spoke to over 9,000 people on their doorsteps - as well as delivering around 50,000 leaflets to people's homes. I was pleased that my constituency voted by around 70:30 to remain in the EU, but was deeply disappointed by the result across Sheffield and the country.
As I argued throughout the campaign, I believe that there’s a real danger that leaving the EU will not only damage the UK economically, and threaten many important rights and protections for people, but risk the peace and stability of our continent at a dangerous time. The UK’s decision was quickly seized upon by far-right parties across Europe to argue for the end of the EU, and notably by the leader of France’s National Front Marine Le Pen as part of her bid to become President of France.
The lies that the ‘Leave’ campaign told to secure their victory are being increasingly exposed, in particular on NHS funding. More worryingly, the expectations that they created over immigration - on which they are now back-tracking - have created deep divisions in our society which we will have to work hard to heal. I’ve challenged Ministers to do more to tackle those who promote division.
As the Government took the early steps to implement the country's decision, I began pressing the concerns of my constituents. In the weeks following the referendum, I challenged the Prime Minister on EU structural funds for Sheffield City Region, the Universities Minister on EU research funding and the Environment Minister on climate change targets which are all threatened by 'Brexit'.
Last October, I took on the role of Shadow Minister on Brexit, part of the team led by Sir Keir Starmer, which is holding the Government to account as it negotiates Britain’s exit from the EU. In that job I’ve led for Labour’s front bench in debates on the rights of EU nationals and continued collaboration in science and research, and opposing a hard Tory Brexit.
I will continue to make the case for the closest possible relationship with the rest of the EU, which I believe provides the best possible deal for the UK, on which I recently wrote for the Yorkshire Post. I’ve published regular updates – see the latest here.