I backed the PM’s deal in March – but the new ‘offer’ looks beyond the pale

I backed the PM’s deal in March – but the new ‘offer’ looks beyond the pale

Back in 2016 17.4 million voted to leave the EU. They did so because they believed in Britain. They believed in our future as an independent nation state able to govern our own affairs and choose our future. They chose to take back control of our laws, money, borders and trade.

In the referendum campaign it was clear that leaving meant just that. Leaving. Not keeping bits of the EU. Not keeping the Customs Union, the Single Market or other bits. For if we stay in the Customs Union, our trade policy would continue to be made in Brussels, not Britain. To stay in the Single Market would be to allow the EU to continue to control many of our laws. We all want a deal but that deal must respect the referendum and make sure we do a proper job of leaving the EU. 

Instead Parliament has been gridlocked over Brexit for months. The opinion polls seem clear that not leaving at the end of March was damaging for trust in our democracy. The European Elections being held is the final straw with voters having practically given up on the mainstream political parties. 

After weeks of fruitless talks with the Labour Party, the Prime Minister has unveiled her “new and bold” Brexit deal. The government is trying – for a fourth time – to get it through the Commons. Yet it is worse than the last deal. Most concerning of all is that allowing this bill to proceed past second reading would risk it being a vehicle for remaining in the EU’s Customs Union and a second referendum. That is simply not a risk we can take. 

Running right through the heart of the deal is the backstop – a mechanism, conjured up by Brussels, to trap us under its thumb, tying us to its rules and regulations so that we would not be able to conduct trade deals with the rest of the world. Millions of voters wanted to escape the EU precisely so that we could be free to engage constructively with the fastest growing economies in the world. 

The crypto Customs union that is the Backstop would trap us indefinitely. We could only leave if the EU gave us permission to do so.  It would be unprecedented for a self-governing country, by virtue of signing an international treaty, to be bound to the rules of an international body over which it has no say.  Yet this is precisely the effect of the backstop.

The backstop would turn the UK into a satellite state whilst also posing a grave risk to the Union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  It would do irreversible damage to the constitution of our great nation. And it is unacceptable to our coalition partners in the DUP. 

If the stars align and we manage to agree a trade deal with the EU in a timely fashion after we leave, there will be no need for a backstop.  Yet with the Backstop that would be wholly within the gift of Brussels and unlikely to happen. The better plan is to ditch the backstop and offer the EU a comprehensive free trade deal 

Moreover, this deal hands over £39bn of our money, before the trade talks even begin. It contains a smorgasbord of options which the “remain and reform” Labour Party will exploit to reverse the referendum result – including the possibility of a second referendum which was ruled out by the 2017 Conservative Manifesto. This deal even puts the Single Market, revoking Article 50 and cancelling Brexit altogether firmly back on the table. These are not options that can be supported and the risk is too high to take.

I supported the Prime Minister in March as I thought that was our last best chance to leave the EU.  Yet this deal is worse and the risks of this bill are too high for it to be supportable. 

Countless opportunities await this country when it commits to delivering the historic referendum result in full.  To truly transform our country into a great, self-governing democracy, allowing us to determine our own rules, control our borders, choose how we spend our own money and to end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Sadly this deal of the PM’s cannot achieve that. I will read the whole bill cover to cover but expect the small print to prove to me that I just cannot support it.