15th March 2019 - Brexit and my votes this week
I have received many emails from constituents concerning my voting record this week and would like to clarify the situation. I recognise that votes in Parliament can be complicated and this week has been extremely difficult to follow. I hope this helps explain why I voted how I did.
My objective throughout the Brexit process has been to respect the result of the referendum and see the UK leave the EU – as one United Kingdom. The way to do that, to avoid unnecessary and avoidable economic harm and protect our precious union, is to leave with a deal.
For over two and a half years, the Government has successfully negotiated with the EU and got that deal. The end result, the Withdrawal Agreement, represents the only deal available. Compromises have been made on both sides, but it is balanced and allows us to end over 45 years of shared laws, economic policy and regulation in a managed way. It gets us out of the EU. It means that we will be outside EU treaties from the day we leave the EU. It is the next stage in the process of leaving and regaining our sovereignty.
On Tuesday this week, I voted to leave the EU on 29th March with the Government’s deal. This is my preferred option for the UK and I have worked hard to allow that to happen, but the House of Commons disagreed and rejected that option.
Some MPs voted against to try to stop us leaving the EU altogether, some because they want a different deal and others because they want to leave without any relationship with the EU. But whatever their reasons for their vote, on Tuesday night, it became clear that, because Parliament had voted against the Withdrawal Agreement, leaving the EU on 29th March with this negotiated deal did not seem possible any longer.
On Wednesday the Commons then held votes to determine whether we were prepared to leave on 29th March without a deal. Some MPs want to take no deal off the table altogether and, while I think we should leave with a deal, I recognise that keeping no deal on the table helps our negotiating position.
So I voted against taking no deal off the table.
But the majority of MPs disagreed and Parliament instead voted that the UK could not leave without a deal. The same evening there was another vote which included the option to extend Article 50, the so-called Malthouse compromise, which I did not vote for because I want us to leave with a deal on 29th March.
The overall consequence of Wednesday’s votes was that there are now only two options left: we either leave with a deal or we have no Brexit.
On Thursday evening I voted against a second referendum – it goes against what the people said in 2016 and we cannot ignore that. But, it has become clear during this week of votes that, because of Parliament’s rejection so far of the Government’s deal with the EU, we will end up with no Brexit at all, unless we extend the process.
So this time I voted for a motion that asks the EU for a short extension to Art. 50. This is not to keep the UK in, but to make sure we can leave with a deal. If we don’t get this deal through, it is not the case that we will leave without a deal, we won’t leave at all. This vote gives time to get agreement and ensure Brexit happens.
As MP for Staffordshire Moorlands and a member of the Government, I am trying to make sure that we do leave. I have consistently voted to leave the EU as my voting record shows. I now want to get a majority of MPs to back the deal so that we can leave as soon as possible.
February 14th 2019
Last month I voted for a deal that delivers on the result of the referendum. One that sees the end of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, that ends us having to pay vast sums to Brussels every week, that means that the UK Parliament decides on our immigration policy and that sees the UK leaving both the EU customs union and single market but which crucially protects jobs and security.
Parliament has now sent a clear message about what Brexit deal it would support, indicating what needs to be changed so that we can secure a majority for a deal and honour the result of the referendum, and the Prime Minister is acting on that mandate.
Negotiating the changes MPs want to see will not be easy, but if we stand together and speak with one voice, I am sure we can find the right way forward.
January 22nd 2019
Last week I voted for a deal that delivers on the result of the referendum. One that sees the end of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, that ends us having to pay vast sums to Brussels every week, that means that the UK Parliament decides on our immigration policy and that sees the UK leaving both the EU customs union and single market but which crucially protects jobs and security.
I welcome the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday where she updated MPs on finding a way forward on Brexit, following constructive meetings with MPs from all parties last week.
The Prime Minister made the following key commitments:
- We will be more flexible, open and inclusive in how we engage Parliament in the next phase of negotiations;
- We will embed the strongest possible protections on workers’ rights and the environment – including looking at legislation where necessary;
- We will work to identify how we can ensure that our commitment to no hard border in Northern Ireland can be delivered in a way that commands the support of MPs and the European Union;
- And we will waive the application fee for EU nationals who wish to stay through our settlement scheme.
In doing so, we will honour the mandate of the British people and leave the EU in a way that benefits Staffordshire Moorlands and every part of our United Kingdom and every citizen of our country.
Over the coming days, the Prime Minister and Ministerial colleagues will continue to meet with MPs and representatives from business groups and trade unions to try and find the broadest possible consensus on a way forward.
We are disappointed that Jeremy Corbyn has, so far, decided not to accept the offer of discussing this issue with the Prime Minister, but our door is always open.
January 7th 2019
I have received many letters and emails from residents in Staffordshire Moorlands sharing their views and concerns on the Government's proposed deal to leave the European Union.
I appreciate that not everyone will support my position to back this deal. But I have always done what I believe is in the best interests of my constituents.
This deal delivers on the referendum result, takes back control of our borders and ends free movement once and for all, whilst protecting jobs, security and the integrity of the United Kingdom.
Crucially it respects in full the decision of the British people and the residents of Staffordshire Moorlands to leave the European Union.
In the coming weeks, MPs have an incredibly important decision to make. If Parliament backs the deal, then the United Kingdom can turn a corner and 2019 can be the year we put our differences aside and move forward together.
There is broad support for many of the key aspects of the deal but there still remains concern around the Northern Ireland and Ireland backstop. The Prime Minister has listened and is seeking the further assurances that MPs need.
But it is important to be clear. This deal secured by the Prime Minister is in the best interests of Staffordshire Moorlands and the whole of the United Kingdom.
This deal puts Staffordshire Moorlands in a fantastic position for the future and confirms that the days of handing over vast sums of money to the EU each year are over. Instead we can spend our money on important local priorities, such as investing in the NHS and public services.
If we come together in 2019, we can make a success of what lies ahead and build a country that truly works for every one of us.
November 26th 2018 - The Brexit Deal
Last week marked the culmination of a long and complex process of negotiation between the United Kingdom and the European Union. The Prime Minister went to Brussels and came home with an agreed Brexit deal which fulfils the democratic decision of the British public, including my constituents in Staffordshire Moorlands.
This is an incredibly important moment for the Moorlands and I want to take this opportunity to explain what this deal means to our future.
First, control of our borders. Not an emergency brake on free movement or a promise of greater transition controls in the future - but an end to the free movement of people, in full, once and for all.
Second, control of our money. Not a reduction in our membership fee, but an end to vast annual payments being sent to the EU. That is what this deal delivers.
Instead, the Government will be able to focus taxpayers’ money on the domestic issues that matter to my constituents. Like the £394 million per week of extra investment we are putting into the NHS and taking care of our public services.
Third, control over our laws. Not just the return of some areas of control from Brussels - but our laws being made in our country by democratically elected politicians, interpreted and enforced by British courts.
Clearly there has been a range of strong opinions on the negotiation process, but you do not get everything you want in any negotiation.
You need to identify what your vital interests are and stick to them, but be prepared to compromise in other areas in order to achieve a result.
The referendum was won on three main issues: borders, laws and money. This deal will deliver on all three.
But of most importance, this deal is in the best interest of Staffordshire Moorlands.
I know from conversations I have with constituents that people just want the Government to get on with it.
They want a good deal done that fulfils the vote and allows us to look forward, not back. That is what this deal delivers.
It supports our thriving industries, such as agriculture, and protects local jobs and businesses.
For example, in agriculture - so vital to our local economy in the Moorlands - it does not just deliver a better deal under the Common Agricultural Policy; it takes us out of the CAP completely, meaning we can design new systems of support for farmers.
At the same time, it delivers the certainty and clarity that local businesses have called for since the referendum.
Fantastic local businesses, such as Ornua Foods and Scabetti, can now rest assured that they will have time to adjust to our new relationship, avoid a cliff edge, and therefore protect vital jobs and investment.
Outside of the EU we will also be able to strike new trade deals around the world and open up new markets in the world’s fastest growing economies.
But before this, MPs need to vote on this deal before Christmas.
It will be one of the most significant votes that Parliament has held for many years. On it will depend whether we move forward together into a brighter future or open the door to yet more division and uncertainty.
So as your Member of Parliament I will be wholeheartedly supporting this deal which is in the best interest of my constituents, and avoids going back to square one with all the chaos that would entail.
This deal puts Staffordshire Moorlands in a fantastic position for the future and I hope it has your support.
October 18th 2018
Last night, the Prime Minister addressed the European Council in Brussels, setting out the good progress we have made in Brexit negotiations so far, and what needs to be agreed to achieve a deal which works for both the UK and the EU.
The Prime Minister spoke to leaders about the good progress that has been made since Salzburg both on the Withdrawal Agreement and our future relationship with the EU.
There are issues remaining around the Northern Irish backstop, which would come into place to ensure there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland if the future relationship isn’t in place at the end of the implementation period. The original proposal from the EU was one that we could not accept in the UK as it would have created a customs border down the Irish Sea.
Earlier this year, we put forward our own proposal to resolve this issue. A further idea which has emerged - and it is only an idea at this stage - is to create an option to extend the implementation period for a matter of months, and it would only be for a matter of months.
This is not expected to be used because we are working with the EU to ensure we have our future relationship in place by the end of December 2020. In those circumstances, there would be no need for any extension of the implementation period.
We are working hard for a deal this autumn – including both a Withdrawal Agreement and a precise Future Framework – and that continues at pace. This is the time for cool, calm heads to prevail with a clear-eyed focus on the few remaining but critical issues that are still to be agreed.