Brexit Update - 27th March

On Monday, I voted in favour of holding an indicative votes process, and reaffirmed that in an earlier vote this afternoon.

 

The Speaker has now confirmed the selection of motions for these votes. These will be a free vote for Conservative MPs (i.e. we are not ‘whipped’ to vote in a certain way) and I intend to vote as follows:

 

B (no deal) - against

D (common market 2.0) - for

H (EFTA and EEA) - for

J (customs union) - for

K (Labour’s alternative plan) - against

L (revocation to avoid no deal) - abstain

M (confirmatory public vote) - against

O (contingent preferential arrangements) – against

 

If you would like a more detailed list of what each of the 8 motions do, the BBC has a good summary:

 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-47715933  

 

My view is that today’s votes are about starting the process of finding a potential route and compromise around which the House can coalesce regarding what sort of future relationship we may want with the European Union. These are ultimately matters for the Political Declaration element of the Prime Minister’s deal, not the Withdrawal Agreement. It is the Withdrawal Agreement (which deals with issues like citizen’s rights and the Irish border) which must be passed this week in order for article 50 to be extended to 22 May.

 

That said, it is clear many MPs are uncomfortable voting to approve the Withdrawal Agreement (even though the agree with its terms) because of the uncertainty around the substance of the future relationship.

 

Today MPs should, in my view, vote for as many outcomes as they can live with. There may then be a whittling down of options on Monday.

 

For this reason, I will be voting in favour of options which are effectively variants on the Prime Minister’s current deal (which I continue to support), which would provide for a range of options for the future relationship under the current text.

 

I will be voting against suggestions which are unworkable, or which have been refused already by the EU.

 

I also think MPs should be focusing on outcomes, not process. I will therefore not be supporting motions which go to matters of process, rather than substance and outcomes.

 

The Prime Minister has already stated this week that Parliamentary approval will be required to leaving the EU without a deal, and the House has already confirmed it does not support leaving without a deal. So whilst I have sympathy with the spirit of Motion L (and as you will know previously I voted against a no deal Brexit in all circumstances) I do not think it is necessary.

 

A confirmatory referendum might lead to a particular outcome (deal, no deal, no Brexit), but it is not an outcome in itself. It doesn’t tell us anything about what sort of deal the House would be willing to accept as suitable and appropriate for our country, and it doesn’t provide an answer to this conundrum. I think confusing outcomes and process at this time is unhelpful and will simply muddy the water. Despite having met with Peter Kyle (the advocate of this approach) last week to hear him out, I remain concerned about the implications of a referendum. In addition the motion refers to holding a referendum in respect of “any agreement” – as I support the Prime Minister’s deal being passed and implemented I cannot support the motion as drafted.

 

I hope this is clear, and await the results tonight with interest.

 

Separately, the Prime Minister has announced she will be stepping down as Prime Minister following the completion of the first phase of negotiations with the European Union. Assuming her deal is passed, this means there will be a leadership contest starting late May. It is safe to say that the Prime Minister has been faced with a monumental challenge in her time in office, and has acted with dignity and a commitment to duty and public service throughout her time in office. I have always found her in private to be warm, thoughtful and encouraging, and I would like to thank her for her support and hard work both as Prime Minister, and the as the leader of the Conservative Party.

 

You can read all my statements on Brexit here : https://www.paulmasterton.org.uk/news/brexit-update-0