You will not be surprised to learn that I have received a vast amount of correspondence from residents in Tamworth over the last few weeks about the B word - the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
They have included a variety of opinion; some want me to vote to ‘ditch the deal’, some want me to back the deal for security and assurances, and some want me to stop Brexit all together or call for a second referendum.
From the outset I want to address the prospect of a second referendum. As far as I and this Government are concerned, the people had a vote in June 2016 and they voted to leave the European Union. Holding a second referendum about whether or not we leave I believe will have a terribly corrosive effect on our democracy. It will be the elites saying to the people “we don’t like the decision you made so we want you to try again, and harder, to get it right. And we will keep asking until you come up with the decision we want”. We voted to leave, and leave we must.
Regarding the vote that takes place on 11th December on the Withdrawal Agreement (the ‘deal’), there are many aspects that must be considered. Firstly, remember that there is no majority in the House of Commons for ‘no deal’. I do not think it very likely that the House of Commons would allow a scenario where the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan is rejected to then move to Brexit with no deal. Even if the doomsday scenarios are incorrect (and most doomsday scenarios are rarely correct – the world always seems to keep turning), Parliament will still want some sort of EU deal. Even this week a cross Party group of MPs voted to insist that Parliament avoids this possibility. I voted against them because I do not want to undermine the Prime Minister’s negotiating position, but a majority in the House of Commons, including the Labour Party voted to diminish our negotiating position.
If Parliament were to vote the Prime Minister’s deal down next week we would be in truly testing territory for our democracy. Those that were quick out of the blocks to say publicly how they will vote it down should think carefully about their decision and what the consequences may be. A Brexit in name only? A second referendum? No Brexit at all? Yet if we are not careful any of these could become possibilities. I do not think these are the things that the people of Tamworth voted for in 2016. Tamworth voted to leave be two to one. And whenever I talk to local people they say to me “just get on with it.” That is what I want us to do. So let’s get on with it.
The Withdrawal Agreement that will be proposed next Tuesday is not perfect – very few agreements are - but I think it honours what most people voted for: an end to free movement and control our borders, a route out of the Single Market and Customs Union, no more sending vast sums annually to the EU, and an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. In securing our exit from the EU we must not make the perfect the enemy of the good.
I have always been a Brexiteer. I have always had confidence in our ability for forge our own path around the world and return to a global, independent United Kingdom. I was too young to vote when in the first referendum to take us into the EU but seeing how they have conducted the negotiations has made me ever more sure of my decision to vote leave.
The Withdrawal Agreement on the table provides certainty to business and citizens whilst delivering on the referendum result through a smooth and orderly Brexit. Most importantly it allows us to diverge from the EU. I am confident we can wring some further concessions from them to bolster our confidence as we make our way out of the EU. I vote leave. The majority in Tamworth voted leave. Britain voted leave. So let’s get on with it.