Update on Brexit Talks - 28 March 2019

I thought it might be helpful to write another update following the votes on Brexit this week. This is still a fast-moving situation. As you might imagine, I have again received many emails from Constituents. It is clear that there are a large number of differing views amongst Chelmsford residents. I am writing the same letter to all constituents so as to be transparent to all.

Last night’s “indicative votes” confirmed my longstanding view that there is no easy way forward. Not one of the options that had been tabled achieved a majority. 

Regarding my own votes: many constituents have asked me to support a “no deal” exit. However, I have heard considerable evidence about the risks of “no deal” to our economy, jobs and livelihoods as well as growing concerns about the impact of a “no deal” exit on maintaining the unity of the United Kingdom. I therefore did not support this option.

Many other constituents asked me to support a second referendum or revoking article 50. Even though I campaigned for “Remain” in the 2016 referendum, I do not currently believe a second referendum is the best way forward. In 2016 people were told that the result would be respected. There are huge divisions in our country. I am concerned that a second referendum or revoking Article 50 would be even more divisive.

I have continually argued that it is not my preferred option to stay in the single market without a say on the rules (the Norway/ Iceland model), or to be in a customs union also without a say on the rules (the Turkey model). But when having to rank these against a no deal or no exit, I gave these outcomes a preference in last night’s indicative votes. 

My top preference remains for a bespoke agreement such as that set out in the deal negotiated by the Prime Minister. This enables the UK to leave the EU and also paves the way to a new long term relationship between the UK and the other 27 EU countries.  This seeks to safeguard our trade as well as protecting people’s jobs and our security interests.  I therefore continue to believe supporting the negotiated Withdrawal Agreement is the best way forward.  This also remains the only way to guarantee no further extensions of the current process.

It is clear that many MPs who have not supported the Withdrawal Agreement in previous votes now wish to support it.  I very much hope that it will return to the House of Commons for a further vote.  I am hopeful that this will happen tomorrow.

Last night we were also told by Theresa May that she would step down earlier than planned.  I have huge admiration for Theresa May.  I am very proud to be Chelmsford’s first woman Member of Parliament and to have served under a her as a woman Prime Minister.  It is clear that she was dealt an almost impossible hand of cards.  She has been truly tenacious in working to find the best deal for our country and to find a way through these negotiations that works for all of the UK.

Thank you to everyone who has contacted me, I would also like to this opportunity to wish all readers a very happy Mothering Sunday for this weekend.