The House of Commons returns from its recess on Monday, and the debate on Brexit will resume on Wednesday. I hope to speak before the postponed meaningful vote takes place the following week.
I will support the Prime Minister’s deal, and I will continue to make the case for what I see as a sensible compromise.
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It ensures that we will leave the European Union, but with a transition period to reassure business.
I think there are essentially only three options open to MPs.
The first would be to leave without a deal. It’s necessary to prepare for this possibility, because unless there is a deal this is likely to be what will happen. Since MPs voted to trigger Article 50, the legal process by which we leave the EU, the clock began to tick.
I fear that those who actively want ‘no deal’ have not understood the consequences. New tariff and non-tariff barriers with our largest trading partner would be bound to exact an economic cost, while the disruption could be immensely damaging.
The second option for MPs would be to try to delay or even stop Brexit altogether, probably through the device of a second referendum. I’ve explained before why I think this is wrong. The country voted, by a narrow but decisive margin, to leave, and I believe that MPs are duty-bound to implement that decision.
MPs who flirt with either of these options are taking a very big risk. Those who want ‘no-deal’ may not get it, but instead could lose Brexit altogether. On the other hand, those who want a second referendum may find that the process takes them to ‘no-deal’ regardless.
So the third option is, in my view, the right one, which is to leave with a deal – and that has to be the deal which the Prime Minister has negotiated and agreed with the EU. It can’t be some conjured up new proposal which there isn’t time to negotiate, or which won’t command parliamentary support, or which the EU won’t accept.
Currently there doesn’t appear to be anything like a majority for the Prime Minister’s deal. But when it comes to the crunch MPs are going to have to think very carefully.
I hope the Commons will eventually realise the Prime Minister’s deal is the pragmatic, and indeed the only, way forward.
You can find further information, including the highlights of my diary each week, on my website: www.nickherbert.com.
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