In My View - 22nd November 2018

The Palace of Westminster isn’t like a modern work environment in many ways and, whilst it is a privilege to be there, it does present certain challenges including a lack of meeting rooms and quiet spaces. This is one of the reasons that you see so many MPs and Lords being interviewed outside and I have been among those getting the winter coat out this week to talk about the Prime Minister’s proposed Brexit deal and its implications for the country.

As usual, the media has presented a rather tribal take on the situation but, leaving personalities aside, as various experts get to grips with the legal ramifications of the deal it is not getting any more attractive and it is not something that I can support. The likely end position of the agreement would see the UK bound to an International Treaty involving us being in an EU dictated Customs Union, unable to control our trade policy or strike deals with other countries, unable to control many of our tariffs and duties and still being presided over by the European Court of Justice.

The deal has seen relations deteriorate between the Government and the DUP who see the Northern Ireland proposals as a betrayal. In fact the only real argument circulating in favour of it that it is the only draft agreement in existence right now. Leaving the EU without a deal has never been my preferred route but the Government’s negotiations have been the equivalent of announcing that we will agree to anything in order to avoid that. The process of leaving the Customs Union in the future would be punitive and complex, and subject to an effective EU veto.

There is much speculation about letters of no-confidence in the Prime Minister but that really should remain a private matter between Theresa May, MPs and the chairman of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady. However, I stood for election with a manifesto that said we would leave the Customs Union in order to respect the result of the EU Referendum and so did members of the Cabinet.

My recent trip to Rotterdam to talk to trade and customs officials was the latest in a number of occasions on which I have seen that other countries are not daunted by the coming changes and are taking practical steps to make sure things work. Not signing the Withdrawal Agreement does not mean breaking off constructive talks with the EU and working towards a free trade deal embracing existing technologies, as already used in the EU and in other parts of the world, to make our borders as efficient and inexpensive as possible. I will continue to work hard in Westminster to reflect that and also to be inclusive of colleagues’ ideas and concerns.

Understandably I have received a great deal of correspondence about the Government and Brexit and would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to share their views with me. If you would like to get in touch on this or any other issue please do email or call 01935314321.