Brexit Update

My response to Eastleigh MP Mims Davies’ latest Brexit Update:

On the 15th January, the Withdrawal Agreement was put before the House of Commons.

Ideally it would have been put before the House of Commons last year but the Prime Minister wasted yet more time.

This Agreement would:

Respect the referendum taking back control of our laws, our money and our borders and allowing us to trade with our friends and allies around the world.

We already have control of our laws, our money, and our borders. We already trade with our friends and allies around the world. It doesn’t even respect the promises made in the referendum.

Safeguard our economy, with large local employers like GE Aviation and Prysmian supporting the deal.

Leaving with a withdrawal agreement is certainly better than the alternative however, despite the impact to local businesses like GE Aviation and Prysmian, you have stated that you would support a disorderly exit.

Offer a compromise around which we can begin to heal our political divisions.

This agreement is far from a compromise. Despite her historic defeat, the Prime Minister has still failed to genuinely reach out to other parties to form a consensus on the way forward, preferring to capitulate to the usual suspects in her own party. She continually manages to deepen political divisions, not heal them.

Retain close diplomatic links to the EU while paving the way for a new trade relationship with our closest neighbours.

If only the UK could agree on what new trade relationship we want. Ideally one that avoids a hard border.

And avoid both the dangers of No Deal or No Brexit.

Please explain the dangers of no Brexit.

Nonetheless, Parliament, primarily down to MPs looking to frustrate this process and stop us from leaving the EU altogether, voted this Deal down.

This is clearly false. Parliament has now voted for exactly the same deal with the exception of the Northern Irish backstop. So it looks more like MPs want to frustrate the agreed provisions to ensure no hard border in the event that a future relationship cannot be agreed.

This outcome helps no-one, gets us no further forward & means that the deadlock continues for communities, businesses & jobs.

Tonight’s vote gets us no further forward either. The Prime Minister has essentially voted against her own deal with the EU. With 59 days to go, we are just one step closer to a disorderly exit, which communities and businesses are ill-prepared for.

That’s why I am actively supporting our focus on key next steps in the House of Commons which must come together & work out a way forward for ALL as the 29th March closes in.

What are you actively doing? Who are you actively working with? It doesn’t seem to be enough based on this evening’s debate.

Over and above everything is that there is no reason why we couldn’t leave the EU on the 29th March, and I absolutely do not want to see a long, drawn out extension of Article 50, a view that I have shared with the Prime Minister.

You would barely have had enough time to pass all the necessary legislation if MPs had supported the withdrawal agreement but they haven’t.

For those who back no deal, I do understand this sentiment. Many have said that they feel that the UK should leave the EU on the 29th March on WTO rules.

Leaving without a withdrawal agreement is the only outcome that doesn’t require something to change. WTO rules only cover a fraction of what we will need to be in place for the country to continue operating in 59 days time.

However, as we continue to celebrate record high employment in the UK, with The Resolution Foundation saying:

“low-income households, disadvantaged groups and traditionally low employment urban areas are benefitting most from Britain’s jobs boom.”

As a Member of Parliament, I have a responsibility to listen to local employers large and small across our area – such as Southampton Airport who I visited last Friday, and Proteum who I visited the week before. Both have shown me that, while they are taking a pragmatic approach to Brexit, leaving the EU without a deal would affect LOCAL jobs.

It will. Leaving with a deal is also likely to affect local jobs but we won’t know for sure how until we have negotiated a future relationship with the EU.

Some have said that they feel people were not ‘informed’ ahead of the referendum, and that therefore their vote to leave should not count. To those people I say that every home in the country was sent a pamphlet by the Government making VERY clear what leaving the EU could mean, and regardless, 52.5% of those that voted in the referendum in Eastleigh, voted to leave the EU. The turnout in that election was one of the highest recorded in any election in our constituency at 78.2%.

There were plenty of issues with the 2016 referendum, which I am sure will be discussed at length for many years, but it would be risible to suggest that a majority of people eligible to vote then would have expected either the deal the Prime Minister negotiated, or the consequences of a disorderly exit.

Others have said that they feel that there should be a second referendum. The vast majority of those pushing this option would privately prefer that we never left the EU, and the so called ‘Peoples Vote’ campaign is nothing more than a disingenuous ploy to reverse the result of the referendum.

I reluctantly support a referendum on the final deal, for a few reasons:

  • The current deadlock in Parliament
  • The inability of MPs to function effectively with the dangerous idea of a unified ‘will of the people’ from the 2016 referendum hanging over them
  • The gulf between what was promised in 2016 and what is now on offer

It may even provide the much needed space to begin to heal the divide which threatens to rip the country apart.

I very publicly assure you that I will be campaigning to remain in the EU in the unlikely event that there is another referendum.

But very quickly, let’s look at the political alternatives.

Labour Continue to fail to present their own Brexit plan, with many of their MPs continuing to support remaining in the EU and, unlike Union Leaders, Party Leaders and leading MPs, the Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn continues to refuse a meeting with the Prime Minister.

It would be nice if more of their MPs supported the wishes of their membership, but the Prime Minister has not made any serious attempts to work with other parties on a real compromise.

Lib Dems Have made clear that they wish to use a Second Referendum to ignore the result of the referendum and reverse the decision of 17.4 million voted for.

Arguably you want to use the 2016 referendum to ignore the wishes of voters in 2019. Does the current Parliament get to bind future Parliaments in the same way?

UKIP Have demonstrated how their plan would have no regard for safeguarding jobs or our economy, nor heal our nations divisions.

No argument there, although I fear the Conservative party is closer to UKIP than ever before.

In contrast, I am absolutely committed to delivering on the result of the EU Referendum and ensuring that we leave the European Union in a smooth and orderly way – and getting on with it – and that will be my continued mission. I have made VERY clear that I would not support a long, drawn out extension to Article 50, and while I would prefer to avoid leaving on WTO rules, I would support this, over the extension of Article 50, which would just lead to even more uncertainty and frustrate this process even further.

Unfortunately this is the clearest indication yet of your reckless disregard for the damage a disorderly exit will inflict on Eastleigh and the UK. I sincerely hope you will reconsider in the next 59 days.


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