I would like to update constituents with my reaction to last night’s vote as well as my intentions for forthcoming votes this week.
I am extremely disappointed with last night’s result. Despite the legally-binding assurances obtained by the Government from the EU, which Parliament itself asked for, I regret that my colleagues decided to prolong the uncertainty and vote down the deal. I fear also that they may have given succour to those seeking to stop Brexit altogether.
As a result of last night’s vote Parliament will today be asked whether it wants the UK to leave the EU without a deal, and if does not consent to this then it will be asked tomorrow whether it wants to ask the Government to request an extension to Article 50. If this request were accepted by the EU, it would mean that the UK does not in fact leave the EU on 29th March.
Today, I will be voting to keep the option of no-deal firmly on the table. The ability to walk away from any negotiation is an essential part of securing a good deal, otherwise you face having to accept whatever terms are imposed upon you. Not having the option to walk away would therefore do great damage to the UK’s negotiating position and I am not willing to help bring this about.
But if Parliament does vote against no deal tonight, and the vote on extending Article 50 consequently goes ahead tomorrow, I will vote against extending Article 50. In March 2017 I voted, along with an overwhelming number of my colleagues, to trigger Article 50. This set in motion an explicitly defined 2 year period after which the UK would leave the EU, with or without a deal. I want nothing more than the Government’s Withdrawal Agreement to pass, but if this is not possible then we cannot kick the can down the road and avoid making the big decisions now. If Article 50 is extended, we will simply find ourselves in the same position within a month or three month’s time and have to make the same decisions then. We must now be prepared to do what the British people asked of us and leave the EU.