A frontbench Welsh MP joined more than 30 others to defy the Labour whip in not supporting Boris Johnson’s Brexit Bill.
The European Union (Future Relationship) Bill passed a Commons vote on December 30 by a majority of 448 and was then voted through the House of Lords before being given royal assent by the Queen at 12.25 am on December 31.
The deal lays out the future trading relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union when the Brexit transition period ends at 11pm on Thursday,
From January 1, the terms on which Britain and the EU trade will fundamentally change as the UK leaves the single market and customs union.
You can find out what the deal means for you here.
The official Labour party line was to vote for the deal, with the choice being seen as a decision between Johnson’s deal or a no-deal Brexit.
However, 37 Labour MPs abstained or voted against the bill, including MP for Gower Tonia Antoniazzi.
In order to abstain, Ms Antoniazzi also resigned her position as a parliamentary private secretary to the work and pensions and Scottish teams.
In a resignation letter addressed to Labour leader Kier Starmer, posted to the MPs twitter on Wednesday evening, Ms Antoniazzi said she would abstain from voting with the party whip because she promised her constituents to “never vote for anything that would make them worse off”.
She said that her constituency depends on tourism, farming and fisheries and “any barrier to these industries are going to destroy them”.
Adding: “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,” as another reason for not supporting the bill.
Securing the seat she has held since 2015 again at the 2019 general election, Ms Antoniazzi said that if the Brexit vote had been for anything it was a “cry in the dark for people who believed they counted for nothing”.
In her victory speech she added: “The last decade shows what happens when you ignore people.”
She has previously said of Brexit : “Boris Johnson wants to avoid scrutiny at all costs, and I categorically do not trust him with the future of our country. I have always said I would never vote for anything that would make my constituents worse off, and Boris Johnson has offered us a terrible deal.
“There is nothing to protect workers’ rights, environmental safeguards or make sure the agricultural sector in Gower survives. I will only vote for a deal if it is put back to the people via a referendum against the option to remain in the EU.”
In 2018, Ms Antoniazzi resigned from her position on the frontbench because of Labour’s position on Brexit.
The resignation letter in full:
“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.
“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”.
-- to www.walesonline.co.uk