21 JUN 2018
I fully realise the strength of feeling on this issue and that is because Brexit has such far reaching consequences. It continues to be the most divisive of issues across families, communities and within both main political parties.
This vote was not about whether we leave the EU; that was decided by the referendum, but about the arrangements that will be in place after we leave and whether Parliament should have a Meaningful Vote.
Last week the Prime Minister undertook to address the concerns of those of us who felt that the EU Withdrawal Bill did not adequately address the role of Parliament in having a Meaningful Vote in the event of a No Deal outcome to the negotiations. The discussion that followed led to a position that seemed satisfactory to both sides but the government then altered the agreed wording. This is why the House of Lords returned the originally agreed draft for further debate to the Commons
One argument advanced by the government was that putting an amendable vote on the face of the Bill would encourage the EU to toughen its negotiating stance as it would consider that we believe a No Deal Brexit is to be avoided at all cost.
But the reality is that a No Deal Brexit would be extraordinarily damaging both for ourselves and our EU partners. No member state of the EU would want this. It is just as likely that they would consider that we had made sound contingency plans to deal with the problem a No Deal would cause.
Having listened to the evidence of the impact of a walk away, no deal Brexit on individuals, communities and businesses, I could not support a situation where Parliament has no mechanisms to help to deal with this scenario.
I know the Prime Minister is seeking a good deal and I hope that she is successful in achieving this. I fear however, that we are up against the reality of Brexit and the limited options on offer if we wish to continue to benefit from free and frictionless trade with our nearest and most important trading partners. The dangers go beyond the consequences for our economy and it is worth looking at the many reports from Parliamentary Select Committees which have been taking evidence on this over the course of this Parliament.
I believe it would have been in our best interests to have been able to reduce the risk of Hard Brexit and voted for the amendment. Parliament rejected this by a majority of 16 votes and once the bill receives Royal Assent it will become an Act of Parliament.
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