THIS Thursday marks the one-year countdown to Brexit.
One year left to prevent the single biggest political and economic crisis we’ll face in our lifetimes.
One year left to fight for the jobs and protections that the EU provides.
There are some, in both the Tory and Labour parties, who have given up and are resigned to heading over that cliff-edge on March 29, 2019.
But I’m not prepared to walk away from the battle. I joined the Labour Party to protect jobs and defend workers’ rights, and that’s what I will continue to do. And it’s what every single Labour MP and MSP should do.
The economic reality of Brexit is already becoming apparent, and we haven’t even left the EU yet.
A new report for the Scottish Parliament reveals that ‘significant worries’ have been identified in the six key ‘growth sectors’ that drive our economy, with small and medium-sized businesses likely to be particularly affected.
It found that industries are already having issues with falling numbers of workers from EU countries.
Our country is culturally deeper and economically richer because of immigration, not despite it, and the Labour Party must shout that from the rooftops – because the Tories certainly won’t.
In fact, we should be shouting louder about the benefits of remaining in the EU – something we simply weren’t good enough at as a party during the 2016 referendum.
The EU has brought 28 countries together, bringing hope to tens of millions of people and nurturing peace between nations.
Another milestone date is also on the horizon: the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, one of Labour’s proudest achievements in government.
We simply cannot put that at risk with a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and the only way to prevent that is permanent membership of the European Single Market and the Customs Union.
That’s just one reason I’ve been fighting for the UK to take the least-worst economic option if we are to leave the EU by remaining in the Single Market.
It would safeguard 80,000 jobs here in Scotland and many, many more across the UK. It would protect rights we all take for granted, including the right to join a trade union.
I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our trade union allies who want us to remain in the Single Market.
Nobody voted to make themselves poorer in 2016, but it’s now clearer than ever that the Leave campaign was based on a pack of lies.
Later this year, we will get to see just how bad Theresa May’s Brexit deal is. People have the right to change their minds.
As Brexit Secretary David Davis himself once said, ‘a democracy that ceases to be able to change its mind, ceases to be a democracy’.
That’s why I personally support a second referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal.
We have one year to stop the Tories inflicting an economic catastrophe on the UK, and one year to fight for a better, shared future with our European neighbours.