In 2015, I was elected on the Conservative Manifesto which promised to deliver a referendum on our future relationship with the European Union. In 2016, I joined 544 other MPs in the division lobbies to vote to legislate for that referendum. I then voted with 498 MPs to trigger Article 50 and for the Withdrawal Act which included the date and time of our withdrawal from the EU.
My position has remained consistent. When I voted against the Government, I explained my reasons. On 15th January, I voted against the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement because the Northern Ireland Backstop would keep us tied to the EU unless every one of the remaining EU Leaders agreed we could leave.
This means any country in the EU could refuse to let us exit the Backstop. I understand why people would like me to support the Prime Minister’s deal, however with the Backstop included, this would sign us up to an arrangement which would leave our country locked into the EU potentially forever. A worse position than before we triggered Article 50.
There are of course many who wish to remain in the EU and there is nothing wrong with this. But I was elected on the basis of a clear commitment. I promised to honour the result of the referendum and do everything I could to ensure the decision of the British people was implemented.
For those who think we should change course, I ask you to consider this; if I change my position on honouring the decision of the British people, you would rightly be able to question every commitment I made from here onwards. Further damaging the fragile trust people have in politics. I will never please everyone, but I will always seek to explain my decisions and my reasoning for voting in a particular way.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister again presented her deal to the House of Commons. Although she had worked tirelessly to bring assurances about the Backstop back from Brussels, the advice of the Attorney General was that the risk of being trapped in the Backstop ‘remains unchanged’. I could not support a deal that leaves our country so exposed.
The great majority of people I speak with want us to be able to move on from Brexit and refocus our time and efforts on the other very important issues facing our country. I still believe we can leave on 29th March and will do all I can to make that happen, but I will not put our country into a worse position than we had whilst in the EU.