Over the past couple of days I have supported a series of amendments to try to reduce the risk of the U.K. crashing out of the EU on March 29th with No Deal. The Government must stop introducing deliberate delays and instead make serious plans for what happens if the Prime Minister's Deal is rejected. As there have been no changes to the legal text of the Withdrawal Agreement, rejection looks to be near certain and we do not have the luxury of time on our side with just 79 days to go until Brexit.
Yesterday I voted for an amendment that will prevent the Government implementing the "no deal" provisions of The Withdrawal Act without the explicit consent of Parliament.
In essence, this was about Parliament making it clear to Government that there is no majority for No Deal. That message was highlighted further during a cross Party meeting between the Prime Minister and over 200 MPs after we had written to set out our deep concerns about the damaging effect of No Deal on individuals, businesses and communities.
Today I supported a further amendment in order to reduce the timeframe for Government to return with its proposals about what should happen next if the Deal is voted down next week. The Government will now have 3 days rather than 21 days to respond.
This matters because of the very serious consequences that would follow if we left the EU in a chaotic manner and the increasing risk of that happening as a result of running out of time for any alternatives.
A majority of MPs won't support No Deal because of both the immediate and longer term damage this would inflict on our economy. The government's own forecasts predict that growth over the next 15 years without a deal would be 9.3% lower than it would otherwise have been on current terms.
WTO rules are not the panacea that some claim, British exports to the EU would be hit by tariffs of around £6bn. The cost of Imports would also be affected, increasing the cost of living in the UK.
There would be serious disruption to complex supply chains hitting many of our key manufacturers and also creating delays to the supplies many products including diagnostic supplies and medicines which are crucial to patients who rely on NHS care. Stockpiling and other No Deal planning costs are already running into billions and the Government could and should prevent this waste by ruling out No Deal.
But the avoidable problems created by No Deal extend beyond this to the major disruption to networks of cooperation in vital areas such as policing, security, research and travel.
We would all be affected and whatever the rhetoric from those who argue for No Deal, Britain would be far poorer, weaker and more isolated. No responsible Government or MP could vote to knowingly and deliberately inflict this on the people they represent. I and many of my colleagues would resign the Conservative whip if it became the Party's stated policy objective.
It is also time for Government to stop presenting this as a simple binary choice between the Prime Minister's deal and No Deal. Parliament has shown and will continue to demonstrate that it is not prepared to accept that.