Brexit has been the defining issue of this Parliament to date. I have received thousands of emails about the topic (all of which have been replied to or will receive a reply shortly) arguing for or against Brexit and why I should vote for or against the deal in front of the House of Commons.
I campaigned to remain inside the EU, not because I didn't think the UK would be strong enough to stand alone, but because on the balance of costs & benefits I believed that we gained more than lost from membership. However, remain lost the referendum and I was elected on a manifesto that committed us to leaving the EU. I have followed through this manifesto pledge since my election, while supporting amendments to champion EU citizen rights, environmental/social measures and scientific & security cooperation to continue Post Brexit.
The vote before the House of Commons today is not for a range of options, but for one (with potentially a few amendments), which is whether or not to vote for the Prime Minister’s Deal. As I said in the press and at meetings and surgeries around our constituency, I believe the deal provides us a solid way forward: honouring the referendum result to remove us from the EU political project, while keeping as close as possible economic relationship to protect our prosperity. In addition, the provisions within Withdrawal Agreement on EU & British citizens’ rights, as well as data management and mutual recognition of qualifications means that we can provide certainty and protection for individuals and businesses.
The deal is not without compromises; I don't like the Northern Irish backstop, but with the "lock" confirmed yesterday, no EU regulations will be accepted in NI without U.K. agreement. I would also prefer to have the future deal ready in legal text and not just outline, but the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration provide a blueprint for us to follow that no other opposition party has been able to better.
I believe a second referendum would be an abdication of my responsibility as your MP to find a way out of this impasse. Furthermore, I stand against a “no deal” outcome that could damage our prosperity, but nor do I support ignoring the referendum result and remaining in the EU, which would make me no better than the SNP and their disregard for the 2014 referendum result. Referenda have done little to settle the differences and divisions within our society, in fact, in many instances they have made them worse. To be elected as an MP is an honour, but it comes with the responsibility of decision making which I take incredibly seriously and for which I am ultimately accountable.
I realise many will disagree with some or all of the above, but as your MP I wanted to make clear why I am supporting the deal tonight and outline the principles on which I will base my judgements and votes going forward, if the vote is unsuccessful.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions on this or any other issues.