Thank you to all those who have recently contacted me about Brexit.
I greatly value your opinions and strength of feeling on this matter.
Due to the numbers of emails I thought it would be helpful if I responded to some of the questions that have arisen from our recent correspondence.
Last night, MPs voted to take control of the parliamentary timetable on Wednesday by voting for the Letwin Amendment by 329 votes to 302.
I voted against as I do not think that these MPs want to leave the EU as I do.
MPs will now vote on Brexit alternatives this Wednesday in order to try to find a majority for any Brexit option.
Depending on which proposals are selected by the Speaker, options MPs will vote on could include:
- Revocation of Article 50
- Second referendum
- Prime Minister’s deal
- Prime Minister’s deal with customs union (a softer version of the her deal)
- Prime Minister’s deal with customs union and single market membership
- Standard free trade agreement (similar to Canada’s agreement with the EU)
- No-deal Brexit (leaving on WTO terms)
Will the votes be binding?
Importantly, the Government will not necessarily be bound by what these MPs decide.
The Prime Minister stated that she was “sceptical” about the process, which “could lead to an outcome that is un-negotiable with the EU”.
Nevertheless, she has promised to engage constructively with the process.
I shall continue to vote to get us out of the EU as soon as possible.
The hardest part is finding the best route.
Revoking Article 50 Petition
Will you sign the ‘Revoke Article 50’ petition?
Thank you to all those who have contacted me to say that they have signed the online petition to revoke Article 50.
41% of my constituents voted to remain.
I have always respected that decision but I do not think the other 59% want another vote or delay, let alone the revocation of Article 50.
It is worth noting that many of the people who have signed this petition are EU citizens living in the UK who were not able to vote in the 2016 Referendum.
Apparently my name is also listed alongside others as having signed the petition, which of course is not the case.
This suggests that the petition is vulnerable to hacking and is not a trustworthy indicator of national opinion.
17.4 million British citizens voted to leave the EU in 2016. Whilst the strength of feeling is clear from all positions, I do not think that this referendum result should be jeopardised by the 5.5 million supporting the revocation of Article 50 petition.
Extension of Article 50
Can you confirm that the Government sought an agreement from the European Council to extend Article 50?
Yes, on 21 March, the Prime Minister made the following speech on the extension of Article 50:
“I have just met with Donald Tusk following the EU Council’s discussion on the UK’s request for the approval of the Strasbourg supplementary documents and for a short extension to the Article 50 process.
Firstly I welcome the Council’s approval of the legally-binding assurances in relation to the Northern Ireland backstop which I negotiated with President Juncker last week.
This should give extra assurance to Parliament that, in the unlikely event the backstop is ever used, it will only be temporary; and that the UK and the EU will begin work immediately to replace the backstop with alternative arrangements by the end of December 2020.
After a lengthy discussion, the council today also agreed, subject to a successful vote next week, that in order to provide time for the UK Parliament to agree and ratify a Brexit deal, the date of our departure will now be extended to 22 May.
If Parliament does not agree a deal next week, the EU Council will extend Article 50 until 12 April. At this point we would either leave with no deal, or put forward an alternative plan.
If this involved a further extension it would mean participation in the European Parliamentary elections.
As I have said previously, I believe strongly that it would be wrong to ask people in the UK to participate in these elections three years after voting to leave the EU.
What the decision today underlines is the importance of the House of Commons passing a Brexit deal next week so that we can bring an end to the uncertainty and leave in a smooth and orderly manner.
Tomorrow morning, I will be returning to the UK and working hard to build support for getting the deal through.
I know MPs on all sides of the debate have passionate views, and I respect those different positions.
Last night I expressed my frustration. I know that MPs are frustrated too. They have difficult jobs to do.
I hope we can all agree, we are now at the moment of decision.
I will make every effort to ensure that we are able to leave with a deal and move our country forward.”
Is voting for the deal the only way forward for Brexit?
Possibly and so I will support the deal again this is because I believe that Brexit is at risk.
I will not vote for the extension to article 50.
I am against a slow Brexit. Everyone has had enough of this process and would like to start planning for a future outside the EU.
Could the MPs pushing for a second referendum get their way?
I doubt it and I think it would be a disaster to vote in a referendum again until we have finished this process.
As you will know, no benefits from leaving will be in evidence for another two years.
We voted down the option of another referendum in the House two weeks ago.
There would be no point in voting at all if we ignore the result, as people would say we would have done.
A General Election would not get us out of the dilemma and would delay any solution and certainty about the future.
Delay is bad news as businesses always ask for this process to end so that they can get on with some idea of what lies ahead.
I think we need to leave the EU before we ask the electorate to trust us again.
There are people who would prefer our country to be run by other countries, and a lot of them are left wing MPs which will not improve if there are more elected.
I support the PM’s deal, even though it has its faults, as it gets us out and we can go forward with Europe as friends.
The deal is the least worst choice and delivers on the promise in the manifesto and has the agreement of both our people and the EU.
WTO (World Trade Organisation)
Is leaving on WTO terms still an option?
The PM confirmed that WTO is the default position.
Our trade with the EU is falling while our trade under WTO is growing.
The UK exported £113.8 bn to the US in 2017, our top global trading partner, and £22.1 bn to China.
£639.8 bn of UK trade is with non-EU countries. This is only set to increase once we leave the EU.
It has been calculated that a WTO Brexit would produce a GDP boost of 7% to the UK economy over the next 15 years which would be worth about £140 billion.
I am perfectly content with a no deal exit and will seek to get that if possible.