16th October 2018
I have been giving my full attention to try and second guess how Brexit might be delivered, and what the possible outcomes could be. It continues to be a fast-changing process with many moving parts in the jigsaw: the EU’s response to Chequers; the economy; the Irish border conundrum; the progress of the trade and taxation bills; of course public opinion; and opinions of colleagues in the House of Commons.
At the forefront of my mind with every development is the future of the country and of my constituents. I take my responsibilities as your representative in Parliament extremely seriously.
I felt the Prime Minister’s Chequers proposals were a fair opening position for negotiations with the EU. I never believed they were the finished article, fully expecting the EU to push back in some areas, perhaps regarding movement of people and the inclusion of services. I supported the Prime Minister in her endeavours, because I felt the proposals were a genuine attempt at finding a deal that would respect the referendum, safeguard our economy and also maintain no hard border in Ireland.
Her proposals seek reciprocal arrangements on trade, residency, work, health, visa-free travel, pensions and other benefits in the hope of securing a deal with the least possible negative effect on both UK and EU citizens alike. I fully support those aims, and I still hope that a version of Chequers might be achievable.
However, if a version of Chequers cannot be agreed by both sides and we are in no-deal, WTO or Canada territory, I have stated publicly that I believe there would be no alternative other than some form of public vote.
If you had asked me a month ago, I would have said this was out of the question, but two things have become apparent in recent weeks which have altered my view as to whether a further public vote may be required. I say "required" deliberately. I do not "want" another vote, but I fear there may be no alternative - it remains my least preferred route forward, but it may be a possibility nonetheless.
When we voted in the referendum we could not have envisaged the multitude of complexities ahead. This is true, regardless of which option we supported. As I’m sure you are aware, there are significant policy variations in the deals currently being mooted: Chequers, the Norway model, the Canada Plus model, no-deal and WTO rules. Each route will have a vastly different impact on our trade sector, our agricultural policy, our domestic security abilities, and our immigration rules.
Analysis from the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) explains the economic impact of each proposed relationship with the EU as follows:
As you can see, the Government's own analysis is clear on one thing: that leaving with no deal, on WTO rules, would be disastrous for our economy, and therefore for our country.
Given that the DUP, the hard Brexiteers in my party and the Labour front bench have now made it clear they will not support the Prime Minister in any variant of her Chequers proposals, that means no-deal is a distinct possibility.
When you add to this a second fact - that Parliament will not support a no-deal Brexit - I have come to realise that the only logical step if faced with that scenario will be to go back to the people. I for one could not sleep comfortably at night unless I knew we had checked this was definitely what the nation wanted.
As I said earlier I do not "want" a further public vote, but in the scenario I have outlined above, there may well be no alternative.
In the meantime, I will keep this page updated with my thoughts. I have also created several explanatory pages to the left of this page on topics which I hope you will find helpful - the Brexit deals, key dates and EU citizens’ rights.