On Wednesday 14th November, the draft EU Withdrawal Agreement was published by the UK Government and European Union. It is a 600 page, highly technical document which is intended to be a bridge to the permanent basis of our relationship with the EU after we leave.
While some politicians and political commentators had a knee-jerk reaction to this deal (the SNP for example said they would vote against it before it was even published), I have been carefully considering the Agreement in detail before coming to a view as to whether it delivers for my constituents.
The House of Commons is expected to vote on whether to support the EU Withdrawal Agreement in December. The outcome of rejecting the deal is that the UK would, almost certainly, leave the EU without a deal. That is the reality of the situation. Deciding whether or not to support this deal will be one of the biggest decisions MPs will ever make.
I will not be rushed or forced into reaching a position. I will not be bounced into making a decision for short term party political reasons. As I have said all along, my priority is to ensure that we get a Brexit deal that works for the Scottish Borders, for Scotland and for the whole of the United Kingdom. Given the lasting impact that this Agreement will have on our country, it is important that we get it right.
My initial reaction is that having a deal on the table to scrutinise is in itself a huge achievement. Regardless of your view of the merits of the deal, it is welcome to have clarity for businesses and in areas like EU citizens’ rights. It is a credit to the Prime Minister that she has achieved this despite so much resistance from the EU.
However, I do have a number of initial concerns, in particular surrounding the provisions (or lack of them) on rights to fish in UK territorial waters and around the Northern Ireland backstop arrangement. As unionist, I will find it very hard to support anything which attacks the integrity of the United Kingdom.
Over the coming days, I will be looking closely at how this agreement will affect businesses and residents in the Borders before coming to a view about whether I can support it. I have already received many emails about it, but would encourage people to get in touch with my office or complete the short survey below to let me know your views. I will also be speaking to ministerial colleagues to obtain further clarity on many of these issues.
If you have not already done so, please let me know what you think of the Withdrawal Agreement.
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