The Prime Minister announced on 26th February that a series of votes will take place in Parliament over the next few days. The first vote will be on the Government’s deal and may be followed by votes on leaving the EU without an agreement, and whether to seek a short extension to Article 50.
It is not guaranteed that all these votes will take place, but if the House does divide in all three instances, as I expect, my votes will be cast as follows:
Unless there is significant movement from the EU, I will not vote to support the Withdrawal Agreement. This will continue to be the case until there is compromise from the EU on the continuing jurisdiction of the ECJ and, of course, on the backstop, from which we must be able to unilaterally withdraw. The UK is not signed up to any other international treaty without the ability to walk away should we decide to do so – this deal, which will also be ratified as an international treaty, cannot be the exception to that rule.
I will vote to keep no deal on the table. Make no mistake, no deal is not the outcome I want, and it remains unlikely, but we must not take this option off the table. As I have said before, no sane person would ever be in a negotiation without the ability to walk away. Moreover, the Withdrawal Agreement is 98% of the way there and, as I have said, we now need movement and compromise from the EU, which has been lacking so far, to get it over the line. Keeping no deal on the table simply gives us more leverage and makes it more likely that we can secure the necessary changes.
I will not vote for an extension of the Article 50 process. It is nearly three years since Parliament was advised that the country wanted to leave the EU, and this is all starting to take far too long. Rather than having a pointless delay, which will not change anything, we need to deliver on the result of the referendum and move on as a country. So, whatever we end up with, we must get there within the expected timeframe and leave, with or without a deal, at the end of this month.
What next? It should also be borne in mind that there is the much-vaunted possibility of not leaving the EU at all, if the Withdrawal Agreement is not agreed to. Thankfully, I don’t believe we are yet at that point yet and I want to keep the pressure on the EU to come to an accord with the UK. It is still a fast-moving situation, changing hourly, so anything is possible – but I want to deliver on the result of the referendum!