Brexit Withdrawal Deal

As you know, on Wednesday night the full text of the draft Withdrawal Agreement and outline Future Relationship Declaration was released. 


I want to update you on my position.


The draft agreement is about 600 pages long, and I was impressed by the number of people who managed to read it and form a view within minutes.


Deciding whether or not to support this deal will, short of a decision on whether to go to war, be the biggest decision MPs will make. I will not be rushed, bounced, or forced into reaching a position. To do so would be irresponsible and do you a disservice. You deserve a decision of this magnitude to be properly thought through. 


I have read the documents carefully and have a number of concerns. These relate primarily to the Northern Ireland backstop (which both the UK and EU hope not to have to use), and aspects of the future relationship framework where there is a real lack of detail. In common with most MPs from all parties, I'm generally comfortable with the rest of the Withdrawal Agreement, which provides certainty on areas like EU citizens' rights. 


I now need to work through those concerns and understand the practical reality and real-world implications in a number of areas.


So as of today, I am not in a position to state that I will be supporting the deal.


However, it is my view that leaving the EU without a deal would be a terrible outcome for East Renfrewshire and the UK as a whole. There is an inherent risk in voting against the deal which I must therefore factor in. There is no guarantee that if the deal is rejected there will be an acceptable alternative proposal (such as a Norway-type arrangement, which as I have said before is my preferred model) or, for those who wish one, a second referendum.


I can confirm that around 90% of correspondence I have received so far has requested that I reject the deal (largely though these are people sending identical generic campaign emails, not personal thoughts). But importantly, this is a mix of people asking me to vote against because they want a 'harder' Brexit or to walk away completely without a deal, and people wanting me to vote against because they hope it will lead to a second referendum and stop Brexit altogether.


Both groups agree they don't like the deal, but they want completely opposite outcomes. Both groups obviously cannot be right. And in there lies the 'no deal' risk I mentioned above.


I will continue to speak with local residents and businesses over the coming days. And when I reach a view, it will be you, the people I serve, who are told first.