Last night, European Union leaders granted Theresa May a six-month extension to the Brexit process, pushing the new deadline back to October 31. This delay was necessary to prevent the alternative: crashing out with a ‘no deal’ exit tomorrow night.

Parliament rightly acted to prevent this no deal scenario. Leaving without a deal would be disastrous for jobs and industry across the North East, and would carry the real risk of a massive increase to food prices and disruption to essential medicines. It is not a credible outcome. It also is not an outcome that was widely discussed during the 2016 referendum – in fact, Leave campaigners promised that a deal would be easy to negotiate.

Given that Parliament has ruled out an immediate ‘no deal’ and secured this extension, we need to find a way forward. We cannot simply find ourselves in this same position in 6 months’ time.

I believe that we need to use this extra time to give the people a final say on the terms of the UK’s relationship with the EU through a public vote.

No form of Brexit can live up to what people were promised in 2016. Leaving the EU will not mean an extra £350 million for the NHS. It will mean reduced investment and, as a result, fewer jobs and opportunities. We will have even less money for public services, prolonging the austerity that has hit our community so hard in recent years.

I know that a majority of my constituents voted to leave in 2016. I also know that many voted to leave in the hope of seeing positive change. I want to see that progress too. We need more well-paid jobs locally, child poverty is too high and rising, and our NHS services are under real pressure.

But as Brexit drags on for the next decade – and that will happen even with Theresa May’s deal – there will be no time or energy to sort the big challenges we face as a community.

I’m grateful to the many constituents who have written to me with their wide-ranging views on the best way forward. I appreciate that there are profound disagreements on this divisive issue – with some constituents advocating a ‘no deal’ Brexit and others urging MPs to revoke Article 50 and stay in the EU. I will always listen to my constituents’ views on this and every issue, and seek to act in their best interests.

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