There are certainly plenty of rumours and counter rumours swirling around Westminster at the moment, most of which should be disregarded for the sensationalist content that it is!
But to the residents of the Clacton constituency, who I am sure have concerns about these reports, I say this: I will not back any delay to the Article 50 process, nor will I vote for a second referendum – whatever is on the ballot paper. I also maintain that we must not take the no deal option off the table, and I will not support any efforts to do so, as no sane person would be in a negotiation without the ability to walk away.
70% of my constituents voted for Brexit, as did a majority of voters across the country. Following that, 60% of local residents voted for me when I campaigned to deliver on the result of the referendum – incidentally, a further 25% supported a Labour candidate who promised the same. So, there is an overwhelming local mandate to leave the European Union.
Even as someone who voted remain, I recognise that strength of feeling and have always wanted to deliver on the referendum result. I have also always sought to represent the views of my constituents, as I best understand them from the correspondence I have received and the conversations I have been having. That is why, at the weekend, I informed the Whips Office that I would not be able to support the withdrawal agreement, unless we had significant movement from the EU on the continuing jurisdiction of the ECJ and on the backstop, from which we must be able to unilaterally withdraw.
And despite the noise emanating from Westminster, I am clear that we must leave on 29th March, with or without a deal, as this date of exit is already established in statute. I am determined to deliver Brexit within that timeframe and do not believe that my colleagues should do anything to delay or frustrate our departure.
As a country, we need to move on.