Tonight, I voted to support the Government’s deal for one reason and one reason alone: it is now the only way to deliver the Brexit that the majority of my constituents voted for.
I did so having previously opposed the deal due to my concerns about the backstop, and those concerns have not been addressed by recent changes. But while this deal remains imperfect, we have run out of time to secure the changes I wanted and, given the fact that the political scenery has changed drastically over the past few weeks, this imperfect deal has become the only way to deliver any form of Brexit on 29th March 2019.
To that point, I know that some will say that we can just leave without a deal at the end of this month. But while that is currently the legal default if we do not have a deal secured by 29th March 2019, the House is scheduled to have a vote on whether to take ‘no deal’ off the table in the coming days – despite my support for no deal, that vote is almost certain to be successful. Therefore, leaving with no deal is, in all probability, not an achievable outcome. This is a point that some of the more sensible ERG members have come to accept in recent days – in fact, I was in the ‘aye’ lobby with David Davis.
In practice, this means that the potential Brexit outcomes on offer are as follows: backing this imperfect deal, obtaining an extension to the Article 50 process, having a time-consuming and Brexit delaying General Election, or scrapping the whole thing. Only one of those outcomes could deliver Brexit at the end of this month, and the other three would give a remain backing House of Commons opportunities to take control of proceedings, before opening the door to a second referendum, which is likely have remain as an option – I have always said that a second referendum would be make a divided country even more divided, and we have asked the question once, we shouldn’t need to ask it twice.
It is my view, therefore, that by failing to pass this deal, my colleagues have put the very prospect of leaving the European Union in jeopardy and that is disappointing – we need to deliver Brexit and move on! Moreover, a possible General Election would, I am certain, see Jeremy Corbyn enter Downing Street and deliver a much softer Brexit than we have on offer now, before he goes on to cause untold damage to our country.
As I have said before, I have always sought to best understand and represent the myriad of local views on the form of Brexit that residents want. Yet, those who voted to leave do not speak with one unified voice, just like those who voted to remain – the correspondence I have received on this matter in recent months demonstrates just how fractured those views are. All we know is that the majority want out, and I have always been clear in my desire to deliver on that local mandate in a way that best secures the prosperity and security of our local area.
So, when faced with the choice of an imperfect Brexit or no Brexit at all, I chose the former, and would do so again. And for those who might say I have betrayed Brexit by voting for this deal, it’s worth bearing in mind that the deal has failed to pass the House again and it would now not be surprising if we get a much softer Brexit, or no Brexit at all.