Reflecting on latest Brexit developments
This week the House of Commons will again vote on Brexit. I continue to believe that the best course is to agree the Prime Minister’s deal.
There are signs that the EU may finally be willing to address the UK’s concerns over the Irish ‘backstop’, in which case the deal could still go through the Commons (although it will not be voted on this week).
I am very concerned about the prospect of leaving without a deal, although if one is not agreed the Commons is now likely to vote for a delay rather than allow this to happen.
But delay can only postpone the decision which must eventually be made, and anything other than a short delay would be highly problematic.
So I hope that, when the next ‘Meaningful Vote’ comes on or before 12 March, the Commons will finally agree a deal so that we can secure an orderly Brexit on time.
Some now actively favour ‘no-deal’. I profoundly disagree that we should want this, and I fear that proponents of leaving without a detailed Withdrawal Agreement in place do not appreciate the consequences.
Suddenly dropping membership of a huge free trade area on our doorstep in favour of new tariff and non-tariff barriers for half of our trade would be a disruptive and damaging act of protectionism. Businesses are rightly concerned about it.
However, as I said in the Commons this week, I equally disagree with those who say that we should hold a second referendum, which I believe would be wrong in principle, divisive and would prolong uncertainty.
I still believe that the right course is to implement the decision of the British people in a pragmatic manner.
The deal negotiated by the Prime Minister is a sensible compromise that would allow us to leave the EU, but with a transition period to give confidence to business, and time to negotiate a new free trade agreement with the EU.
We would minimise trading barriers with our largest market, but regain control of our money, borders and laws.
My support for this course is not a result of party allegiance, but because I believe it is the right way forward. I gave a commitment to my constituents to honour the referendum result, and I have taken these decisions because I believe them to be in the national interest.
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