Thank you to everyone who has written in with their views on today’s indicative votes. These are momentous times and if there is one positive it is that so many people are engaged with democracy and the political process right now.
I have said from the outset that I would respect the result of the referendum but that I would oppose a ‘Hard Brexit’ and ‘No Deal’. Therefore I have voted for the Withdrawal Agreement as the best way to stop ‘No Deal’. I suspect we will vote again on the Withdrawal Agreement soon and I support it again the reasons I set out previously, which you can find here.
Today the House of Commons had the chance to vote on a series of motions and so I voted for the following options.
Common Market 2.0 and EFTA/EEA
I have long been an advocate for the Common Market 2.0 option, also known as EFTA/EEA. I argued for this in a Parliamentary debate last February and in a number of newspaper articles, for example this piece in the Guardian arguing for a return to Common Market principles.
Common Market 2.0 is an off the shelf, already tested model, which delivers on the result of the referendum and would protect the economy, jobs and businesses.
It would allow the UK to remain in most parts of the Single Market but be removed from the more controversial parts of EU membership, such as the pursuit of an ever-closer union and the common justice and home affairs policies. It would be a return to the economic principles which were behind the UK spearheading the creation of the Single Market.
It is an option that is entirely consistent with the Withdrawal Agreement and would only require a change to the Political Declaration.
Revocation to Avoid No Deal
In the last General Election, I promised my constituents I would work to avoid a Hard-Brexit or ‘No Deal’.
No Deal would be terrible for our economy. It would devastate our international credibility, test the Good Friday Agreement to its limit, lead to a legal vacuum with the loss of hundreds of treaties we are party to by virtue of EU membership, and completely disrupt complex supply chains overnight.
This motion calls for the revocation of Article 50 ONLY if there has been no deal agreed with the EU two days before ‘exit day’. If it gets to this stage, the decision will be revocation against no deal, and revocation would be best option to protect jobs and the economy. I also note that over 20,000 of my constituents have signed a petition to this effect.
This motion would take ‘No Deal’ off the table, and is entirely consistent with my desire to achieve a good deal with the EU. This motion DOES NOT stop Brexit and I remain convinced the best course of action is to approve the Withdrawal Agreement.
I abstained on the motion calling for a confirmatory public vote. I still have serious concerns about the way in which another referendum could be held, which have not been addressed. In short these are:
- What is the exact referendum question – would ‘No Deal’ be on the ballot paper? If it is, that is a huge risk. If it is not, the referendum may have a low turnout with questions about its legitimacy.
- If the Withdrawal Agreement is approved in the referendum what instruction does this give about the future framework, which is yet to be negotiated? The debate will continue between a Norway, Canada, or different Brexit. Another referendum would not resolve those questions at all and could lead to the same impasse we see now.
- Under what rules would the referendum be conducted? Many argue for another referendum given issues with digital campaigning and donations in the 2016 referendum. The head of the Electoral Commission has said no new referendum should take place until the laws around the use of social media and campaign funding have been significantly tightened – this cannot be rushed in case similar mistakes are made again.
- It would not resolve the current tension between direct and representative democracy which is currently putting our political system under such strain.
However, I have always said I do not rule out any options when it comes to avoiding ‘No Deal’, and that is why I did not vote against this option.
I voted against the following options.
- To leave with No Deal.
- Labour’s unachievable and non-sensical Brexit plan.
- To leave with a basic Free Trade Agreement.