I am travelling back to Westminster for what will be the most important vote I’ll have taken part in during my time as your MP.
I made a pledge on my election night that I would not act in narrow party interests, but in the interests of my whole constituency, including those who voted for me and those who did not.
I stood on a manifesto to deliver Brexit – 62% of my constituents voted to leave the EU. I have had no evidence that they have changed their minds. If anything, I detect a swing in favour of former Remain voters now wanting to leave. That is also my position.
My stance has been consistent throughout and I have been clear with my constituents about my views. I voted Remain originally, but I wasn’t in Parliament when Article 50 was triggered nor did I campaign for either Leave or Remain. But I am utterly clear that we have a sacred duty to deliver what people voted for in that referendum. A failure to do so would be breaking faith with the people who put me in Parliament to carry out their wishes.
I stood for my election on that manifesto and I have kept that promise throughout my time here, voting for Brexit at every opportunity.
We now face constitutional turbulence on an unprecedented scale, we saw last week the Speaker of the House of Commons tearing up decades of convention and precedence and no doubt he will exercise his privilege to the max this coming week.
We also know there are groups of MPs in the Commons who are putting down their own amendments, and using arcane procedures to stop the government getting its own business through. While I am new to procedure, one thing that is critically important, enshrined in hundreds of years of parliament’s existence is that “government proposes, parliament disposes”. This means government is the only one that can table primary legislation. Parliament can amend and vote it down as is its right. But Parliament itself can’t make the government propose laws. It’s possible this could be upended next week, and then we are truly driving without a steering wheel or a seat belt.
I am one of a minority of MPs in the Commons on all sides who support Brexit. And what we are seeing now is remain-supporting MPs, mainly on the Opposition benches, but some on our side too, seeking to stop Brexit. If their plans are supported, we will end up with no Brexit.
While this would be popular with the 38% of my constituents who voted Remain, this is not a democratic outcome and not one I could ever support.
This is the reason that I am committed to voting for Theresa May’s deal.
On the other hand, I also hear from my Brexit supporting constituents who have asked me to vote down her deal and leave on WTO terms. However, my strong belief is that voting down this deal will achieve exactly the opposite of what they want.
Voting down the deal then hands control to the majority Remain supporting Parliament and they now potentially have the mechanism, the numbers and the tools to force through a revocation of Article 50, a ‘People’s Vote’ or other manoeuvres all designed with one thing only – to overturn YOUR vote that YOU expressed clearly in June 2016.
I am totally opposed to this and I have to make a judgment about the possible outcomes that are in front of me. The risk of losing Brexit altogether is growing stronger, and that is why I will vote for the deal that Theresa May has negotiated, which delivers on the outcome of the referendum, takes back control of our money, borders and laws, and restores the sovereignty of our Parliament.
It is not everything that WTO Brexit supporters wish for, but critically, when I talk to the small, medium and large businesses in my constituency, and the farmers in the rural parts of my constituency, who know their own markets and rules better than anyone else, they state very clearly they need the certainty of the transition period to adjust to new conditions. Small businesses don’t necessarily have financial cushions and as a Conservative I don’t believe in voting for something that makes it harder for them to grown and make a profit. A business owner’s life is extremely difficult even in good times as I know from personal experience, and when I hear from local businesses in the engineering and auto supply chain for example, telling me first hand that they will have to lay off my constituents in certain circumstances, this is not “Project Fear” or scaremongering, this is simple practical common sense.
A common criticism of the deal as it stands is the payment of the £39billion. I want to clear up a misconception. We are not paying the EU anything for this deal. The amount we end up paying, estimated to be roughly £39billion, is settling our existing commitments that stem from our being a member of the EU up until we leave it. We are not paying up front for something, as we leave a club we have to pay the dues we have incurred over the previous period – in this case 45 years of membership.
Under the PM’s deal we will end these contributions once and for all. We WILL have more cash to spend on our NHS, as we have seen last week with the announcement of £20billion more for the long term financial plan.
We know our British business entrepreneurs are the best in the world and will survive and flourish whatever the outcome. I was in business for 30 years and I am confident and believe in our trade and our nation’s ability to prosper outside the EU. But there are real practical obstacles, costs and disruptions in a WTO Brexit without any time to prepare for it. It is my duty to consider those employers who create jobs and provide livelihoods for my constituents.
The vote in the 2016 referendum was clear, democratic and in my view, final. We should not be saying to people, we, the privileged MPs, don’t think you knew what you voted for. It is profoundly insulting to the electorate. The outcome was a mandate to leave the European Union, it is what the majority of my constituents voted for and it is my job to deliver it.