As a write this we will have come to the end a week of Brexit votes in Westminster. Just so you know where I have stood on this, this is how I voted this past week:
* I voted to leave the EU with PMs deal.
* I voted against having no deal removed completely.
* I voted against a second referendum.
* I voted for limited time extension to June so we can try and leave with deal.
As well as knowing how I voted, it’s important you know why I voted that way too:
I supported the Prime Minister’s deal as it delivers on the UK-wide referendum result, while keeping as close as possible economic relationship to protect our prosperity.
However, when speaking to constituents and businesses, all the feedback I get is for us, the politicians, to get on with Brexit and to provide long-term certainty about what our future relationship will look like with the EU. That is why I voted to keep ‘No Deal’ on the table, but for a limited period of time. While ‘No Deal’ is not the outcome I want to see for the UK, Scotland or Ochil and South Perthshire, it does provide that clarity and certainty of what our future relationship will look like, while ensuring we still have a bargaining tool on the table for any further negotiations with the EU.
Equally, we cannot allow Brexit to drag on forever, either through a second referendum, or by extending Article 50 indefinitely. We had a ‘people’s vote’ in 2016 and while I campaigned and voted for us to remain in the EU, I accept that I lost that argument and have to respect the result of the referendum. We have seen the damage and division caused in Scotland by having a second independence referendum hanging over us, and I don’t want to see that situation being amplified here in Scotland, or being repeated across the United Kingdom.
Now that we know how Parliament and the government intend to proceed, I will continue to work on a cross-party basis to seek alternative solutions to find the best possible outcome for Ochil and South Perthshire.
While Brexit inevitably dominates the media coverage of parliamentary proceedings, I have continued to work behind the scenes, with the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) and MPs from other parties, to find a workable solution to the UK Agriculture Bill. I hope we will soon see a satisfactory solution to the UK Agriculture Bill, with the SNP administration in Edinburgh currently having left Scotland out of this crucial piece of legislation, abandoning our farmers in the process. I have been working cross-party try to find a solution that works for our farmers, ensures the highest standards are set and maintained across the whole of the United Kingdom, while still protecting and respecting the devolved powers.
Unfortunately, the SNP are choosing to play party political games on this, rather than stand up and support our farmers. If Scotland is excluded from the UK Agriculture Bill, as the SNP are threatening to do, it will mean our farmers could miss out on the payments and funding they are due after we leave the EU. Given Brexit is now only weeks away, I think it is disgraceful that the SNP have chosen our farmers as the pawn they are willing to sacrifice in their Brexit game.
I was also delighted to welcome a group of young farmers from the Scottish Association Young Farmers Club, down to Parliament this month. The group were making an inaugural visit to Parliament, in what they hope will become an annual event, and the visit was a great success, with the group meeting with Minister Lord Duncan in the Scotland office for a working lunch Q&A session, before attending a reception with the Agriculture Minister and MPs from across Scotland. I look forward to welcoming them all back next year!
Finally, I want to say a quick word about the incident this week in which one of my staff members was threatened and abused. While I am happy to have a robust debate with anyone about politics, and constituents are always welcome in my offices to discuss any issue they like, this sort of behaviour will never be acceptable in political discourse. The incident has been reported to the Police, but it will never be acceptable to behave like that towards anyone, least of all my staff who are not political appointments, but are public servants who work incredibly hard to help anyone who needs it.
As always, if you have any issues or concerns please contact me at my office on 2 Comrie Street, Crieff, by telephone (01764 680 384) or by email (email@example.com).