I have received many emails from constituents concerning my voting record this week and would like to clarify the situation. I know people are getting frustrated with the endless votes and amendments and 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 the EU. All my votes have been consistent with the Conservative party manifesto and 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.