A note to my constituents...
There is no doubt it has been a busy week in Westminster with a lot of voting on a range of options.
For my constituents, below is an account of how I voted. As ever, please get in touch if you would like any further clarity.
My approach to Brexit in recent months has been based on two simple principles:
- Brexit should be delivered – I voted remain in 2016, as did most people in the Scottish Borders. However, it was a UK wide vote and people were promised that their decision would be implemented. In 2017, I was elected on a manifesto commitment to deliver Brexit and I remain committed to doing that. I also believe the majority of my constituents agree – most people accept the result and just want Brexit delivered so that we can move on.
- We need to bring certainty to businesses – Businesses in the Borders are crying out in for certainty and want to know what type of Brexit will happen. Delaying Brexit unnecessarily, debating the same issues for months to come or having another vote do not provide this much needed certainty.
Leaving the EU with the Withdrawal Agreement satisfies both these principles. If MPs had voted for the deal on Tuesday, we would now be on the road to leaving the EU and discussing our future trading relationship.
Parliament has now made it clear it does not support another referendum, does not want to leave without a deal and has voted in favour of reconsidering the Withdrawal Agreement next week. I will once again be supporting the deal next week. It is the only alternative to a long and uncertain delay or to leaving with no deal on 29th March.
The three days of voting were complex. You can see my voting record here, but here is a brief summary:
- On Tuesday, I supported the amended Withdrawal Agreement. The changes to the deal did not go as far as I hoped, but it remains the best way to deliver Brexit and provide certainty to businesses. If the deal comes back to the Parliament for another vote, I will support it again.
- On Wednesday, I voted against a motion which purported to rule out No Deal. I don’t want No Deal, which is why I voted for the Withdrawal Agreement. However, seeking to rule it out undermines our negotiating position with the EU. As a former lawyer, I would never have advised a client to restrict their options in such a way. And notwithstanding this vote, No Deal remains the default option and the UK will leave the EU without a deal if the EU does not grant an extension to Article 50 or if an extension is granted but no alternative is put in place.
- On Thursday, I voted against a second referendum and against delaying Article 50 for no purpose. While I am not opposed to a short, technical extension to Article 50, a longer delay just so that Parliament can continue to debate the same issues does not provide certainty to businesses.
I acknowledge the country is tired of this debate and patience with MPs is running thin. I want Brexit delivered as soon as possible so that we can have certainty for businesses and so that we can move on.