I have always argued that a ‘Hard Brexit’ and ‘No Deal’ are not acceptable outcomes from the Brexit process.
Since my Brexit statement last month, for which I received yet more threats, I have been working tirelessly with fellow Ministerial colleagues to find a way to avoid the risk of ‘No Deal’ by ensuring Article 50 can be extended if necessary.
I was prepared to vote for the “Cooper-Letwin” plan, which would have ensured the House of Commons could vote on extending Article 50 if no deal had been agreed by mid-March.
Therefore, I am pleased the Prime Minister has listened to my concerns and has pledged to:
- Hold another vote on the Withdrawal Agreement by 12th March.
- If the Withdrawal Agreement is rejected once again, the House of Commons will be asked on 13th March if it wants to leave with ‘No Deal’. I will NOT vote for ‘No Deal’.
- If the House of Commons votes against ‘No Deal’, then there will be a vote on extending Article 50. If it comes to this, I will be voting to extend Article 50 to avoid the UK leaving without a deal on 29th March.
As this process proceeds, I do not rule out any options when it comes to avoiding ‘No Deal’ and a ‘Hard Brexit’. However, I am a pragmatist, and so I believe the best solutions are those which can succeed. Therefore, I remain convinced that the best and surest way to avoid ‘No Deal’ and ‘Hard Brexit’ is for the Withdrawal Agreement to be approved, for the reasons I set out in December.
I have also been contacted about the amendment tabled by Conservative MP Alberto Costa. This requests that the Government seeks to agree with the EU that the parts of the Withdrawal Agreement covering the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK Citizens in the EU is implemented in a ‘No Deal’ situation.
I am very pleased that this amendment passed, and I wrote to the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union in October to make the same suggestion.