Whether you voted to remain in or to leave the EU, I understand and appreciate just how frustrating the last three years have been for individuals and businesses alike.
I feel it is important for you to understand my position and the actions I have taken since the referendum in 2016.
In 2015 Members of Parliament voted for the referendum to be held, in effect devolving the decision about the UK’s future relationship with the EU to each and every citizen. At the referendum in 2016, I personally voted to remain within the EU, but the outcome in Erewash was a resounding 62 percent to leave and across the UK, 52 percent to leave.
At that time, as I believe in democracy and upholding the wishes of the voters, I gave my unwavering commitment to honour the outcome of the referendum, and that is what I have done over the subsequent three years.
I have voted to trigger Article 50, voted for the Withdrawal Act and voted on each occasion for the agreed deal. My commitment to uphold the outcome of the referendum has also meant that I voted to keep ‘no deal’ on the table as a negotiating tool, voted against extending Article 50 past the end of March, and, as the referendum was promoted as a once in a generation opportunity, I voted against a second referendum.
At every stage I have endeavoured to uphold democracy which is so precious to our great country. I also believe that I have displayed integrity at every stage of the process not only to uphold the result of the referendum but also the Conservative manifesto at the 2017 election.
I find it deeply regrettable that the UK is yet to leave the EU and the new flexible extension agreed by the EU27 must be viewed by Parliament as the very final opportunity to either agree a deal or be prepared to leave on 31st October 2019 at the latest without a deal.
In my view, it is neither sensible nor desirable for the UK to hold European Elections in May, not least because of the huge financial cost to the taxpayer. However, this situation can only be avoided if Members of Parliament now unite around the deal at the earliest opportunity before 22nd May 2019.
I sincerely believe that the UK’s interests would be best served by leaving the EU with a deal, however I could not in good faith support a deal which includes staying in the customs union or holding a second referendum.
Therefore, it would be irresponsible to rule out leaving the EU without a deal if Parliament cannot come to an agreement.
If we are to begin restoring faith in our democratic institutions, it is now imperative that we bring this part of the Brexit process to a successful conclusion, formally leave the EU as soon as possible, allowing us to move on to the next stage of negotiations which will shape our future relationship with the EU.