As someone who campaigned for the people to have a say on our membership of the EU, I am committed to respecting that mandate given in 2016.
That means, in whichever form it takes, we must leave the EU. A re-run would damage the faith of over 17.4 million voters who made their view clear almost three years ago. Our democracy is precious – and Parliament is nothing without the consent of its voters.
To remain supporters, who argue for a second referendum, I understand your concerns. I campaigned to remain. But I do believe we have a bright future outside the EU too – and given the political feeling in the country, it is right that we do everything we can in Parliament to deliver on those ambitions and aspirations.
To those leave voters who advocate a ‘no deal’ Brexit, I understand that negotiations with the EU have been tough. I have always said ‘no deal’ should remain on the table, but as a very last resort. World Trade Organisation terms should be an insurance policy, not an objective. There is a reason why so many major economies seek to do free trade deals.
‘No deal’ would mean serious disruption to our local farm businesses, with no clarity on export tariffs to their biggest markets. It could also devastate our wider manufacturing sector, including the car industry, who rely on integrated supply chains.
But ‘no deal’ isn’t just about trade, it also represents a political and diplomatic failure of negotiations with our closest friends and allies. We have been highly integrated with the EU legally, economically and diplomatically for over four decades. We must leave the EU, but simply walking away from common problems will create animosity, not solutions.
The Withdrawal Agreement is far from perfect, but it presents us with a good compromise. Compromise is a term which seems to have gone out of fashion lately, but politics is all about compromise – by creating consensus, getting agreements and delivering results.
The Prime Minister has negotiated a deal, agreed by 27 EU member states. In January, I voted for it. Parliament should now compromise and vote for it too. The alternatives are significant delay, closer alignment to the EU, or a second referendum.
If we agree the deal, it gives us a transition period of stability, bringing certainty for business and investment in our economy. It also kick-starts the next stage of negotiations, regarding our future economic partnership.
Moving forward, the deal also allows us to maintain peace at the Irish Border, keep goods moving across the continent, leave the Common Agriculture Policy and Common Fisheries Policy, end free movement, the jurisdiction of the CJEU - and at the same time - protect citizens’ rights.
March 29 is days away. Everyone has worked incredibly hard to make sure we are ready to leave. Despite all the noise, I believe we can and should come together, bring stability and agree to deliver on the 2016 mandate in a practical, sensible and an economically literate way.
It’s what I will continue to argue for and work hard, with colleagues, to achieve.
You can find more on my voting record here.