Westminster has been dominated by the Conservative Party leadership contest and the next steps on Brexit. I supported Boris Johnson to reach the final contest and I am serving in his government. He has been clear that we will leave the EU by the 31st October.
10th April 2019
Last month I held a public meeting for my constituents to ask me questions about the Brexit process. As I set out at that meeting, unfortunately and very frustratingly, the situation is very fluid at the moment. Parliament has been clear about the options it doesn't support but hasn't yet coalesced around an agreement to get Brexit over the line. A month on, nothing has changed in that regard.
That is the reason I supported the Prime Minister's deal – which would have allowed us to take back control of our borders, our laws and our money while protecting jobs and security – and crucially delivering on the referendum result by leaving the European Union. Unfortunately, there were too many people in my party that either wanted to stay in the EU or thought the deal was too much of a compromise – and with the Labour Party doing everything it could to destabilise the situation just to get another general election – we couldn't get the deal passed.
Whilst, I have supported the Prime Minister's deal, I have voted consistently against taking No Deal off the table and against a second referendum. I'm a democrat and it's absolutely essential that we respect the 2016 referendum result by leaving the EU.
I'm pleased that the Prime Minister has now brought the Leader of the Opposition back to the table in an effort the break the logjam – and I hope we can now make progress in leaving the EU in an orderly way. The majority of people I meet in Suffolk Coastal are fed up with all of this and just want Parliament "to get on with it". I will continue to work in Westminster to try and get a Withdrawal Agreement passed as quickly as possible.
3rd April 2019
Last week, there were a series of votes on alternative ways forward. I decided not to support any of them as I believe the deal already negotiated is the best way forward in delivering the outcome of the referendum and also acknowledges the closeness of that result, while putting the decision on whether to adopt future EU regulation changes in the hands of the UK Parliament (or in some circumstances the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly or Northern Ireland administration),
We will be asked again today to vote on some motions, most of which will be the same as last week. The main reason why I decided to vote remain 3 years ago was because I did not want to end up in a Norway style situation where we will adopt all the rules without a say. It would also require accepting full freedom of movement. That is why I won't support the so called Common Market 2.0 option.
Regarding the Customs Union, this hands over to the EU how we choose to do trade deals with other countries. There are always trade offs during these negotiations. More often than not, for the EU, agriculture and food get the priority over services. The UK economic output (Gross Value Added) is about 80% services.
Furthermore, not only do we have to adopt EU regulations - again without a say on what they are in the future - but it penalises us actually doing fairer trade with poorer countries around the world and we can see that with many fruits and everyday items we take for granted like coffee.
It is a very frustrating situation in Parliament at the moment. Yes, I do think Labour are trying to have it both ways by pretending they respect the referendum as they said they would in their manifesto but it is clear that Jeremy Corbyn wants to destabilise the situation to get another general election. In my own party, there are a small number of people either wanting to stay in the EU or think the deal is too much of a compromise for them.
As for a second referendum, the people supporting it are exclusively those who wanted to remain. I reiterate that ignoring the 2016 referendum would be wrong and would be the greatest insult to democracy that this country has experienced. I have always respected the outcome of the referendum and will continue to do so.
I have received a large amount of correspondence regarding Brexit in the last week, offering a variety of opinions on what we should do next as a country and how I should vote in Parliament.
I have already voted so that the UK will be leaving the EU on 29th March 2019. There will not be a second referendum. The 2016 referendum vote was close but decisive, with over 72% of the population expressing a view. That is the highest turnout of voters in nearly 25 years.
I think there has been a huge misunderstanding about the withdrawal agreement published last week. It is not the future trade deal. It is the legal text proposed for the Withdrawal Agreement that sets out a detailed process on leaving the EU and the operational rules for how the implementation or transition period will work in practice. Yes, it contains the so-called backstop on Northern Ireland and it has a new option where we could extend the transition period if we have not agreed the new future trade deal by 2020, rather than use the backstop. Why have this transition period at all? We don't want to disrupt business and jobs by them having to change rules or processes more than once.
But I don't think we will need to use the backstop or extend the transition period as we have already significant progress on the principles for a future trade deal, which are set out in the outline political declaration. This was the more important document published last week. This deal will mean we take back control of our borders, our laws and our money while protecting jobs, security and the integrity of the United Kingdom. We are already agreeing the end of freedom of movement, the freedom to negotiate our own trade deals with other countries around the world, zero tariffs in a free trade area for goods, the UK as an independent coastal state on fisheries and no longer part of the Common Fisheries or Agricultural Policies. There is lot more detail but this short paper is being discussed and negotiated intensively this week to produce a much more detailed paper on which Parliament will vote alongside the withdrawal agreement. This future deal will deliver the referendum outcome.
I will continue to support the Prime Minister, Theresa May, who is handling one of the most challenging and complex negotiations any PM has had to face. Her leadership and resilience are key to securing that comprehensive future trade deal.
I have had a number of emails asking me to vote against the Article 50 Bill.
I voted for the referendum so the people of the UK could decide this pivotal issue.
I shared my views and I campaigned in the referendum.
The vote was to leave and as a democrat, I will be voting for the Bill which enables the UK to leave the EU.
I will not be voting for amendments as all these seek to restrict the ability of the Prime Minister to trigger Article 50 and negotiate the best deal for the UK.