My Week 27/03/19
I was in Washington DC for meetings at the end of last week, including one at the White House which took place in the office in which President Nixon was recorded in the Watergate scandal. Many people think this was in the Oval Office, but in fact Nixon’s study was not in the West Wing but in the adjacent Executive Office Building.
This week I will be calling a debate on tuberculosis to mark World TB Day, and on Thursday I will be speaking in a debate on fracking. I have concerns about proposals to allow conventional drilling for oil and gas without having to obtain planning permission from local authorities.
As I write it is not clear if the Brexit deal will be brought back again for another vote. If the Commons passes the deal on the third attempt this week we will leave the EU by 22 May - a few weeks later than expected, to allow time to pass the necessary legislation, but leave nonetheless.
If we do not pass the deal then we will have go back to the EU by 12 April to seek a further delay, which apart from anything else would mean participating in the European Parliamentary elections.
Theoretically we could just leave without a deal on 12 April, but the House of Commons has already voted against this, and is bound to try and prevent it. Instead it is much more likely that a softer version of Brexit will be agreed. This could be a permanent customs union, meaning that we could not strike trade deals with other countries.
Or it could be the ‘Norway’ model where we would be members of the European Economic Area, which would be advantageous for business, but would mean accepting EU rules and be less able to control migration. The Commons will begin to consider these alternatives this week.
Local opinion is divided. Many people support a second referendum, and over 11,500 of my constituents - one in ten - have signed a petition this week to revoke Article 50 altogether. On the other hand, many others want us to leave immediately, even without a deal. I have serious concerns about all of these options.
I continue to believe that the right course which honours the referendum result in a pragmatic manner is to leave with a deal.
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