Update on Brexit


I have now voted twice for the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal and I was extremely disappointed when it was once again voted down this week. I still believe that the referendum result must be honoured and that the right way to leave the EU is with a pragmatic deal.

I do not want to see ‘no-deal’, which I believe would be damaging, although I maintained my position that it cannot just be taken off the table indefinitely without a deal. The Chancellor gave a very clear warning in his Spring Statement this week about the economic impact of ‘no-deal’, which I would encourage everyone to read.

I repeatedly voted to leave the EU with a deal on 29 March, but, as I warned in my speech in the House of Commons this week, when this was again voted down a delay became inevitable. I supported a short extension to enable us to leave with a deal before the end of June.

The blame for delay should not be attached to those of us who responsibly voted for the deal, but to those who opposed it. There is expected to be a third opportunity to back the deal next week.

I continue to oppose a second referendum, which I believe would be wrong in principle, would prolong uncertainty, and which I fear could well produce an outcome that would perpetuate division. The argument that a referendum is justified because some MPs have changed their minds is obviously fallacious. There are hundreds of parliamentary votes a year, but referendums are unusual events in our country which are intended to settle major constitutional questions on a permanent basis.

Perpetual indecision on this issue is becoming a damaging farce. The public rightly expect it to be sorted out, and we need to end what the Chancellor described this week as the “spectre of uncertainty” in order to restore business confidence.

I set out the choice clearly in the House of Commons this week, and I would encourage readers to watch or read my speech. All my previous articles and speeches on Brexit can be found here.

I appreciate that there are sharply differing opinions on this issue in my constituency. I will continue to listen to all viewpoints carefully and with respect, but in the end I must do what I believe to be right. I was clear in my election address less than two years ago that I believed the referendum result should be honoured, but that we should be pragmatic in leaving the EU, “guided not by ideology but by what is in our national interest”. This is the approach I will continue to take.