As you probably know, I campaigned and voted to leave the EU in the 2016 Referendum. I also served as a Brexit Minister in 2018 but resigned over the terms of Theresa May’s deal as it did not honour the 2016 Referendum result. I thereafter voted against her deal 3 times.
However, I am now very pleased to support Boris Johnson’s deal and will vote for it. It is a significant improvement on the previous one. One of those improvements is the removal of the backstop which was crucial in my decision to vote against the previous deal. The new NI Protocol is time-limited and does not give the EU a veto over how we bring it to an end. Instead the people of Northern Ireland will make the decision. To me, that is a good compromise.
The previous deal kept the UK in a customs union with the EU indefinitely, restricting us from striking our own free trade deals with third countries. This was the polar opposite to the Brexit which people voted for in 2016. Crucially, the new deal ensures that the U.K. is not locked in the EU Customs Union and instead expressly leads to a UK-EU Free Trade Agreement with fewer regulatory constraints on the U.K. This is what I argued for and am pleased that this is now the agreed position.
Importantly, the UK will categorically be leaving the EU customs union and single market. These were two major factors leading up to the 2016 referendum and are vital in regaining our national sovereignty.
On balance, therefore, this is a good deal.
People in Fareham tell me that they are simply fed up with the uncertainty, the deadlock and the attempts to thwart the biggest democratic vote our country has ever seen. This deal respects the will of the people and enables us to get Brexit done.
We can take back control of our borders, stop paying billions to the EU every year, return accountability to UK decision-makers and start focusing on the issues we all care about. Whether it’s the NHS, education or policing, these issues need to be given the time and effort that they deserve.
That is why I will be voting for this new deal.