Last night I voted against the PM’s EU Withdrawal Agreement, as I believe the deal presented did not deliver the Brexit that the people of Bexleyheath and Crayford voted for, particularly with the proposed backstop which is not in the national interest.
Under the agreement, the UK could be forced to remain subject to EU rules and control for many years to come if the backstop was implemented. We would have no right to unilaterally depart and would need all EU states to agree – this cannot be a sensible position from a legal perspective to voluntarily put ourselves in. Without the right to unilaterally leave, an end date is essential to ensure we do exit the EU and it is concerning that the EU have so far been reluctant to give concessions on this simple matter. Therefore, yesterday I signed an amendment to the Withdrawal Agreement which would have ensured the backstop came to an end on 31 December 2021. Unfortunately, the Government did not support this approach and the Speaker did not call the amendment.
In addition, under the Agreement we would pay the EU £39bn upfront with nothing in return, and we would not be able to implement trade deals until we are completely out of the EU. The UK would in fact still be part of the EU and subject to the vast majority of their rules and regulations, and yet not have any say or vote on those rules or regulations. The PM’s claim that the Agreement would take back control of our money, our borders, and our laws should be treated with caution until the actual terms of the final deal are known, and it would not settle the Brexit issue because it leaves the most divisive issues to be resolved until after we have left.
We need to be tougher and get a better negotiated deal from the EU. I am determined to ensure that the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 and that the Referendum result of 2016 is implemented in line with the will of the people.