Statement on the Motion on Withdrawal Agreement
This motion is yet another disappointment to everyone who voted to leave the EU. Rather than set in stone our departure from the EU and freedom for our country it creates a recipe for further uncertainty. The Motion accepts the Withdrawal Agreement and also leaves open the opportunity for the Declaration on the Future Relationship to be further diluted down.
The facts of the Motion are a cause of concern. The Motion is not the same as the Meaningful Vote process under Section 13 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. However, supporting the Motion has serious consequences for our future.
This Motion follows a demand from the European Union made through the European Council Decision of 22 March 2019 to agree to extend the period under Article 50. Under the provisions of that Decision, the UK will remain bound into the staying in the EU until 22 May 2019 if the Motion is agreed. But agreeing the Motion also means accepting the Withdrawal Agreement in full and as drafted. Paragraph (11) of the preamble to the Decision makes it clear that by agreeing to this Motion the Withdrawal Agreement as drafted will be locked in with no change possible. It is clear that it binds the UK into accepting the Withdrawal Agreement and states that it:
“…excludes any re-opening of the Withdrawal Agreement. Any unilateral commitment, statement or other act by the United Kingdom should be compatible with the letter and the spirit of the Withdrawal Agreement.”
This means that once agreed, there is no turning back as the UK will be bound into an international agreement with the EU. No chance to change to Withdrawal Agreement. No chance to change the Northern Ireland backstop, which risks splitting up our United Kingdom. No chance to put safeguards in place to protect our democracy from harmful EU laws being imposed on us. No chance to freely negotiate new trade deals with the rest of the world. And no chance to change in any meaningful way the legislation coming forward to implement the Withdrawal Agreement. Seeking to amend and change the legislation would risk the UK being in breach of international obligations.
Agreeing the Motion will mean we face a Brexit deal dreamed up, drafted and decided by the EU. Once the Motion is passed, we will be forced to comply with the EU’s demands. This is not what the country voted for when 17.4 million people voted to leave the EU in the greatest show of democracy this country has seen. But once again, the will of the EU is being imposed on the will of the British people.
The Withdrawal Agreement represents a legally binding Treaty which will deny the British people and our Parliament of the sovereign right to choose our future and be in control of our destiny.
I was elected to the House of Commons with to mandate to deliver Brexit and the Withdrawal Agreement does not give this country the freedoms, independence, democracy and control the people voted for.
Promises to make changes to the Withdrawal Agreement and it being reopened have not been delivered. There have been no changes to protect the integrity of the United Kingdom and the uncertainty that is inherent in the Withdrawal Agreement is deeply damaging to our country and national interests.
This Motion therefore marks a complete failure of the Government to deliver on its promises, to fulfil the Referendum mandate and implement the manifesto commitments made by so many MPs elected to Parliament in the 2017 General Election.
While the Motion is terrible for our country, a combination of the Government’s failure in negotiations and the deliberate attempts to undermine the Referendum result have changed the balance of risk and the politics of making a decision.
It is becoming increasing clear that MPs elected on mandates to take Britain out of the EU and Customs Union are determined to go back on those pledges and impose a Customs Union on this country. The Withdrawal Agreement already includes a Single Customs Territory, which is a form of Customs Union, and many MPs want to go further. This would prevent Britain from negotiating its own trade deals with the rest of the world and keep Britain as a rule-taker. They clearly have no faith in our democracy and in our ability to govern ourselves and are doing everything possible to go back on the Referendum and keep us in the EU or controlled by it.
If the Withdrawal Agreement is rejected, they will continue with their campaign to use Parliamentary procedures to try to block us leaving the EU. It is clear from events that a hardcore element within Parliament is trying to revoke Article 50 and keep Britain in the EU.
If the Withdrawal Agreement is approved then not only do we face the humiliation of the backstop splitting the UK up and the imposition of EU law but the remain supporters in Parliament and the Government will seek to commit to keep the UK in a Customs Union.
Members of Parliament who are committed to keeping our promises to the people are being forced to choose between taking a risk with this motion or the risk giving remain supporters in the House of Commons two more weeks to sabotage and block Brexit. The Remain supported have no shame about going back on the promises made to the British people.
Had the Government held their nerve then we would be leaving the EU today not being forced to remain. Instead we face another dark day for our democracy and an unenviable choice.
The public should be left in no doubt. Remain supporting MPs in Parliament and in Government are betraying the Referendum result and the promises made to the people.