Thank you to all my constituents who are writing and telephoning on this issue.
I will be voting for the 2nd Reading of the Bill to approve it in principle, and for progress of the Bill, either as set out by the Government, or if amended by agreement between the House and the Government.
My reasons are this. I accepted the result of the Referendum, the process of which I had approved in Parliament. I told my constituents during the campaign that I would do so, and that I as a Parliamentarian had to take the responsibility for the way forward as there was no blueprint for how we were to leave. I then stood and was elected on a manifesto to implement the decision.
My bottom-line sticking point was to avoid a no deal as a result of a failure of the withdrawal negotiations between the UK and EU. I lost the party whip, and my future career in Parliament by ensuring that, and a deal was arrived at last week, partly due to the pressure I and a number of colleagues exerted.
This is the second such deal. There will not be another. If for a second time Parliament overturns an agreement of 28 states, we will leave without a deal, the worst outcome.
We are now at a binary stage. There are several reasons put forward to derail this Bill, none of them wholly illegitimate, but I’m afraid they mostly have at their centre a determination to stop the process, either permanently or temporarily, in favour of a further Referendum or the revocation of the process altogether. I do not support such efforts and have repeatedly and consistently set out my position to my constituents, who by a majority voted to leave the EU, in the press and social media.
We have discussed and debated this issue extensively from the Referendum onwards, if not for the past thirty years. We need a new relationship with the EU, which we can only achieve if we leave with a deal. The EU’s patience is stretched, as is the political process in the UK. We will not be able to resolve this without taking a decision now.
My political life and career have been bound up with the EU, and I regret the decision to leave. But if my country is to have any way forward in terms of where the relationship will be in the future, Parliament has got to decide. If it chooses to throw out the Bill today or during the week, I do not know where we will go after that. But I do believe a perfectly good outcome is possible for the UK and the EU if we take the decisions to leave now, with the deal which has been agreed, and a very negotiable future ahead of us.
Thank you for your interest. If we do not agree, then I am sorry, but whether you do or not I hope you can appreciate how your MP has dealt with the issue over a lengthy period.