Thank you for the e-mails (now over 1000) I’ve had in recent months about Brexit, the draft Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration, the calls for a second referendum, the role of Parliament and MPs, and many other related issues.
I have set out my views on all of these issues below, which I hope will be helpful.
A copy of the proposed EU Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration, along with the legally binding commitments on the backstop which the former Prime Minister secured on 11 March, can be found here.
The independent House of Commons Library analysis of the agreement can be found here.
The letters I wrote to local residents setting out my voting intentions for the draft agreement before the first meaningful vote on 15 January and the second meaningful vote on 12 March are attached at the bottom of this page.
The speech I made on 12 March before the second vote can be found by clicking the image below.
Article 50 Extension
On 28 March, I voted in favour of extending Article 50 from 29 March to 22 May, if the House voted in favour of the draft Withdrawal Agreement when it was put to the House for a third time the same week, or 12 April if it did not. This extension had already been agreed with the EU and enshrined in international law. It was, therefore, important to pass the statutory instrument to ensure that domestic law is not inconsistent with international law. The House voted in favour of the extension by 441 votes to 105.
In my letter of 6 September to local residents, I set out why I do not support a further extension of Article 50. I have attached a copy of this letter at the bottom of this page.
Whilst, at the time of voting on whether to hold indicative votes, I thought that the former Prime Minister’s deal was the best way for us to leave the EU in an orderly fashion, I supported the Letwin amendment to hold indicative votes on alternatives as it seemed the only way for Parliament to have a formal say on the options before it and to try to resolve the Brexit impasse. The speech I made on 27 March before the votes can be found by clicking the image below.
My voting record on the options presented to MPs during the indicative votes on 27 March can be found here and my voting record on the second round of indicative votes held on 1 April can be found here.
Revoking Article 50
In my 12 March letter to local residents attached below, I said that there were four questions I asked myself when we voted on the draft Withdrawal Agreement:
- does the outcome of the vote begin to create a more stable and certain environment for individuals, employers and businesses?
- does my vote support an outcome which enables an exit as the majority voted for in June 2016 to happen in an orderly way?
- would the outcome of the vote make it harder or easier for the Government to be able to continue to govern between now and the next election (to do all the other things most people want their Government to be able to do)? and
- would it enable all the necessary Brexit withdrawal legislation to be passed in the next few weeks and months in an organised way?
At this time, I do not see the revocation of Article 50 meaning I could answer ‘yes’ to these questions. To think that a revocation would just mean the status quo is restored and the clock turned back three years is not realistic.
Second Referendum/People’s Vote
I do not support a second referendum or the People’s Vote campaign. My reasons why can be found here.
‘No Deal’ Brexit
Government policy is to seek a deal but to be clear that we will leave the EU on 31 October even if a deal cannot be concluded.
I have previously raised my concerns about the uncertainty surrounding a ‘no deal’ Brexit. However, after three years of Brexit and the associated uncertainty for everyone, I do now believe that we need to get this withdrawal phase concluded.
The UK is in a holding pattern and too much other important policy is not being progressed. However, my very strong preference is still for us to leave with a deal which is why I have been working on the Alternative Arrangements proposals to try to break the parliamentary logjam.
In the event that the UK does leave the EU without a deal, the Government has been clear that the protection of public services in trade deals, including the NHS, is of the highest importance. The NHS offers a universal service that is free at the point of use. It will never be for sale to the private sector and no trade deal will change these principles.
Our food standards will also not be reduced in the pursuit of trade deals. Any future trade deal must work for British farmers and consumers. For instance, EU standards on food such as chlorinated chicken will come into UK law through the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018. EU regulations on hormone treated beef are already part of UK law. These prevent the use of growth hormones in imports and domestic production. These will continue after the UK leaves the EU.
The Government is planning for every eventuality in the UK's exit from the EU and over £4 billion has been provided on withdrawal preparations including for a no deal exit. Important steps are already being taken to support manufacturing industries including an increase in the annual investment allowance from £200,000 to £1 million and support for the Made Smarter programme promoting automation and digitalisation in the industry.
Supply of Medicines
The Government has been working with industry and the devolved administrations to ensure a coherent approach to achieving a seamless supply of medicines in all areas of the country in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
As part of this, all relevant pharmaceutical companies have been asked to ensure that they have a minimum of six weeks additional supply in the UK, over and above existing business-as-usual buffer stocks, by 31 October 2019.
The Government has also established the Medicines Supply Contingency Planning Programme which is supporting stockpiling activities of prescription only and pharmacy medicines, and engaging with companies that supply short shelf-life products in order to work through air-freight arrangements. This will ensure that UK stockpiles of medicines are sufficient to cope with any potential delays at the border that may arise in the short term.
EU Citizen Settlement Scheme
Information for EU citizens in the UK on how to obtain settled status in the UK can be found here.
I have attached a letter I have received from the Minister for Immigration at the bottom of this page, which contains links to informative leaflets for EU citizens, community groups and local authorities.
I have also attached a letter from the Home Secretary which sets out the assistance available to the most vulnerable and at-risk citizens as well as an update on the issue some people are having with using the ID Document Check app to verify their identity on Apple devices.
A full list of what I’ve said in the House of Commons in debates on Brexit (and other issues) can be found here.
The independent House of Commons Library has produced a number of research documents covering all aspects of Brexit. These can be found here.
The UK in a Changing Europe is another excellent website and can be found here.