The issue of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit has been raised during the Conservative Party Leadership Election, which has prompted a number of constituents to write in concerned about this. I just want to make it very clear that in my view a ‘No Deal’ Brexit would cause huge disruption and damage to our economy. I have consistently worked with colleagues to act against ‘No Deal’ and a ‘Hard Brexit’. A ‘No Deal’ exit in March and April was avoided because of the actions we took, such as:
- Ensuring Parliament would have control over the Brexit process by requiring Parliamentary approval for the Withdrawal Agreement.
- Developing a procedure and timetable should the Withdrawal Agreement be rejected. This gives opportunities for the House of Commons to amend the Government’s Brexit motions and have its say.
- Ensuring that Article 50 could be extended, firstly by amending the Withdrawal Act allow “exit day” to be changed, and secondly by persuading the Prime Minister to bring a vote on extension. This avoided ‘No Deal’ in March and April.
- Leading Parliamentary debates on the EFTA/EEA model and on Customs Arrangements in the hope of finding a consensus for the future relationship.
- Despite being a Minister, I did not follow a three-line whip and refused to vote for a motion that would effectively approve of ‘No Deal’.
The House of Commons has demonstrated on numerous occasions that it will not accept ‘No Deal’. However, the real question which must be resolved is what ‘No Deal’ is replaced with. This is because ‘No Deal’ is the legal default unless replaced by something else.
There are three ways to avoid ‘No Deal’. Approve a deal, revoke Article 50, or extend Article 50. For my own part, I was one of few Conservative MPs to vote for the motion entitled ‘revocation instead of No Deal’, I have voted for extension twice, and a deal three times.
I shall continue to keep my promise to my constituents and oppose ‘No Deal’ and a ‘Hard Brexit’ and I will continue to make this case to whomever is our next Prime Minister.