The Brexit saga is entering its next phase. Currently (18th March) the UK is due to leave the European Union on 29 March – although MPs have today voted to ask for an extension of that deadline in order to give Parliament time to pass the necessary Brexit legislation. However, at the time of writing, the Government has yet to receive parliamentary approval for its Withdrawal Agreement.
I voted in favour of the deal when it came before the House on Tuesday 12 March – just as I did when it was first presented in January. Although I have concerns about a number of elements in the agreement I do not believe that they are insurmountable and I think the other plausible options – No Deal and Remain – are worse. No Deal would inevitably cause huge legal uncertainty for individuals and business and Remain would involve overturning the referendum result.
Matters have been complicated by the fact that, on Wednesday evening (13 March), the House of Commons voted against leaving the EU without a deal. I voted against us taking No Deal off the table – not because I think leaving without a deal would be a good thing, but because I believe it would be wrong to unnecessarily limit our options when we do not need to.
On Thursday 14th March the House voted in favour of requesting a short extension to the Article 50 deadline. I voted against this extension because I think we should just get on with delivering on the result of the referendum. It now seems likely the Government will bring its Withdrawal Agreement back to be voted on for a third time. I will again be working with the Government to persuade colleagues and Opposition MPs to vote for the deal, warts and all so that Parliament and the country can break out of this Brexit deadlock and move on.