I strongly believe that we need to respect and give effect to the 2016 referendum and see that the UK leaves the European Union. That was why I was one of the sponsors of the original Act of Parliament which triggered the ‘Article 50’ process for our departure. I also believe that this should be achieved in a managed and orderly way which is why I have supported a negotiated outcome with the European Union and voted for a deal on three separate occasions in Parliament.
We must however be prepared for all eventualities and if an acceptable agreement which can command the support of Parliament cannot be achieved this includes leaving on a ‘no deal’ basis. That said, we must continue to exhaust all options in securing a negotiated agreement with the EU and I will continue to use all my efforts in this direction given the implications for our economy, security and our precious Union.
The Prime Minister has underlined his determination to see that we leave the EU with a deal on 31 October. I believe that he should be given the opportunity to follow this through. That’s why I didn’t support the EU Extension Bill this week as it would transfer the negotiating influence to the European Union by potentially providing for an open-ended extension to our membership of the EU whatever the conditions which may be attached.
Sadly, Parliament has been very good in expressing a view on what it doesn’t want – it doesn’t want a deal, it doesn’t want no deal but at the same time it also doesn’t want to revoke the Article 50 process. What Parliament has failed to do is to agree on what it does support. The current stasis and political purgatory simply cannot continue. If the Extension Bill now becomes law, there seems little option other than to go back to the country in an election to break the deadlock. I don’t say this with any alacrity, however we need the Country to move forward.