Another week in Parliament as we wrestle, on the nation’s behalf, with the issue which is now consuming us all.
As constituents will know, I left the Government last week due to my determination to ensure that the U.K. had an opportunity of an alternative plan to the current Withdrawal Agreement. I wanted MPs and Ministers to have a free, not whipped vote, should the need for an alternative be necessary, to prevent leaving with no deal. I’m sorry I had to do so, for reasons set out in my letter to the Prime Minister which I posted on sites last week. Despite this one issue, I remain a supporter of the Prime Minister and the Conservative Government, and voted once again to leave the EU on the basis of the Withdrawal Agreement on Friday 29 March.
Last night Parliament rejected the alternatives once more. I voted for Ken Clarke’s customs union proposal. It’s not my top preference - that remains the Agreement already concluded between the Government and the EU.
I was sorry about the decision of my friend Nick Boles to leave the Conservative Party in Parliament, and hope he soon returns. He is a good thinker about a range of issues which will affect the country in the future, and I hope he re-joins us. I have no intention of following him, or those who have left to join another group.
Where now? I hope the Cabinet comes to a clear conclusion this morning to continue pursuing an agreement across Parliament, and give a steer as to which of the alternatives it will support if the Withdrawal Agreement is not successful.
I remain of the view that it should be a Parliamentary decision, rather than go back to the public, for reasons I have given before i.e. the difficulty of what question to be asked etc. But we may have to be flexible on this. I cannot ask for more compromise from others and not be open to it myself.
It’s all a bit day-to-day at present here, but I’m deeply aware that for those outside Westminster all over the country, this uncertainty must be almost intolerable. I can only keep on searching for the best answer on your behalf, and continue to appreciate all the many comments and emails I am getting. Please be assured they are all read. They are not all answered individually, but the answers are available on my website, and of course my surgeries and appointments are available also.
Another post will follow soon.