The purpose of this statement is to clarify what both the Agreement and Declaration reached between HM Government and the European Union on Sunday 25th November 2018, will mean for our great Country and its future relationship with the EU. In addition, it explains why, as things stand today, I will be supporting the Government when Parliament gets the opportunity to have a ‘meaningful vote’.
The full text of the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration is available to view here.
My decision has not been taken lightly. Rest assured I have had many conversations with constituents when I have met them either on an informal or formal basis, I have personally read every email and letter sent to me, I have had in depth discussions with local business owners and managers as well as with my fellow MPs on differing sides of the argument, and I have read the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration. I believe my decision is a pragmatic one.
I want to clarify that, as laid down in the European Union [Withdrawal] Act 2018, determines that the UK will be leave the EU on the 29th March next year irrespective of whether this proposed deal is agreed to.
It is important to recognise that the deal our Government has negotiated with the EU extensively delivers on the result of the referendum by returning control over our money, laws and borders.
In contrast, since the referendum, Labour have consistently failed to develop a credible alternative plan to deliver Brexit and are now actively considering a second referendum, which risks Britain’s departure from the EU in March 2019. Indeed, whilst the current deal delivers on the substance behind the six tests which Labour laid out, they still plan to vote against it in a cynical attempt to bring down the Government and disrupt the Brexit process. Now is not the time to play party politics.
I fully accept that this deal may not be perfect in every single way, however the very nature of a negotiation means that both sides must be willing to give and take. To this end the Government has won important concessions from the EU, which, from the outset nobody thought would be possible. These include:
- An end to free movement once and for all
- No longer send vast sums of money to the EU so that we can spend more on our own priorities, such as investing in our long-term plan for the NHS
- The ability to strike free trade deals around the world
- Ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK
- An end to our involvement in both the Common Agricultural Policy which has failed our farmers, and the Common Fisheries Policy that has failed our coastal communities
- Protecting the integrity of our United Kingdom, including the sovereignty of Gibraltar and Crown Dependencies
In addition, the Government has agreed to honour its previous financial commitments to the EU which were negotiated prior to the 2016 referendum and covers our access to EU services up until the end of the implementation period on 31st December 2020.
With regards to the proposed backstop arrangement, it is neither in the interests of the EU or the UK to have to activate this mechanism. However, it is only right that there is a process in place should HM Government and the EU27 fail to reach an agreement on the Irish border by the end of the implementation period. The last thing we want is the reignition of trouble in Norther Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
It is elements of the proposed backstop arrangement that the Prime Minister is now trying to clarify.
The backstop itself should therefore be viewed as an insurance policy of last resort, which safeguards us from the need to re-establish a hard border either north/south on the island of Ireland or east/west within the Irish Sea, a situation I believe must be avoided at all costs.
On the subject of a ‘People’s Vote’ / Second Referendum which has been put forward by some, to try to overturn the decision of the British people, I would argue that this would not only be undemocratic, but also risks dividing our communities, perhaps irreversibly. I therefore support the Prime Minister who has repeatedly ruled out the possibility of a second referendum.
Others have argued that leaving the EU with ‘No Deal’ would be the best outcome for our Country. This is an option that the Government quite rightly continues to prepare for and whilst in some respects I understand its attraction, I believe that the uncertainty of a ‘No Deal’ scenario would negatively impact on public services as well as businesses which local residents in Erewash so heavily rely on.
As you will be aware, I personally voted to remain in the EU. However, at the time of the Referendum result I did commit to fully honour the will of my Constituents who voted to leave by a margin of 62 per cent to 38 per cent and this commitment has not changed. At the subsequent General Election in June 2017 I was elected with the largest majority of any Member of Parliament for Erewash since the seat was created, on a manifesto which mandates me to deliver the result of the referendum.
After reading both the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration carefully and having considered the alternative proposals including ‘No Deal’, I honestly believe with my head and my heart, that it is my duty as your Member of Parliament to support the Government and vote for the deal in front of us. The time has now come for all MPs, on all sides of the argument, to stop playing politics and instead to unite to do what is in our national interest.
Only then can we get on with the real job of uniting our Country, so that it can once again extend a global reach and is able to prosper outside of the EU.
Finally, events continue to move at a rapid pace and I will be keeping my decision under constant review.