I voted to leave along with 58.9% of people in North Norfolk. The UK result saw 17.4m people vote to leave and overall nearly 1.3m more people wanted to leave than remain. In North Norfolk that margin was over 11,000 votes.
I voted to leave not because I don’t like Europe or any of the slurs that are cast on why leavers voted the way we did, but because I do not want to be in a political union with Europe. I would rather be independent, free to set trade policy, control our borders and make all our own laws in Westminster.
A clear majority of the population felt the same, however the Liberal Democrats and some other parties want to ignore that vote by revoking Article 50 and killing the largest ever democratic vote in this country’s history. This is despite them all saying they would respect the referendum result – yet they have done nothing but thwart and block our attempts to leave.
Virtually everyone I talk to now wants Brexit sorted out so we can move onto running the country normally throughout the transition period.
Hard Brexit or a Deal?
In leaving the EU and avoiding a hard Brexit the sensible solution is to get a deal and then leave in an orderly fashion. I have always advocated this, however if we cannot get a deal I have said we would have to leave without a deal, and certainly you would never take the prospect of a no deal off the table to ensure you can maximise your bargaining power.
A hard deal would cause a degree of interruption while rules and tariffs are set between us and other countries. It would not be ideal and for the impact of uncertainty on people’s lives and jobs a deal would be better. I’ll come onto that in a moment.
When 21 Conservative MP’s lost the whip by voting to allow the Benn Act this effectively said that if Boris Johnson couldn’t achieve a deal by 19th October, they would not allow a no deal and he would have to write a letter to secure an extension. Of course, this weakened his bargaining power at such a crucial stage.
As has happened the Prime Minister has achieved something phenomenal.
What has Boris Johnson secured?
Let’s recall, the EU said the Withdrawal Agreement couldn’t be opened, and that the undemocratic backstop couldn’t be changed. Under Theresa May, this was the main issue Parliament had with her Withdrawal Agreement and it all centred on this so-called back stop.
The back stop would only come into use, if at the end of the transition period the UK and the EU couldn’t agree a future trade deal – and if that happened the whole of the UK (including NI) would stay in the same customs territory as the EU. That wouldn’t be Brexit and would prevent us from doing our own trade deals with the rest of the world. Neither did the backstop have a time limit and essentially it could leave us locked into the EU indefinitely.
Boris Johnson as Prime Minister set about rectifying the deal and replacing the backstop. At the eleventh hour he got a deal – a good deal and at its 2nd reading it passed the House of Commons vote by a margin of 30.
What’s the Deal
So, the question is, how good is this deal, would I back it as your MP and why is there constant complaint from Nigel Farage that it isn’t Brexit?
In my opinion this is a good deal – it is naturally a compromise between the deal makers, but that is not a sign of weakness, yet a necessary fact to deliver democratically what this country voted for and it depends where the compromises are as to what is beneficial to the UK.
What’s been achieved – The New Deal
- The back stop has been replaced – we are out of the Customs Union and NI is part of the UK customs territory meaning we can strike free trade deals around the world. When the EU is a declining overall economy and Germany is heading into recession, we want to trade with expanding economies such as the Far East, India and China, not be limited in the EU.
- For Northern Ireland this is a good deal. I’ve spoken first-hand to those trading in Ireland and they think it is a really good deal. NI’s biggest fear has always been checks at the border and the impact that would have on the peace process. The new deal honours doesn’t risk the peace process. If all goods entering the island of Ireland are checked before arrival for standards and tariffs, then cross-border trade can continue to flow unimpeded.
- For customs checks on goods crossing between Gt Britain and NI there is now a border in the Irish sea, primarily to check the onward destination of goods that will be going into a separate customs territory – say the Republic of Ireland. There will be minimal administration, electronic where possible and importantly all done away from the border. A necessary pragmatic step to overcome the backstop.
- NI will stay aligned to the EU single market in relation to goods from the agriculture, food safety and industrial sectors while the UK won’t. This was a compromise but necessary and was agreed with the DUP. Keeping the border open for farming is incredibly important.
- Consent will be given every four years in Stormont. This was a significant concession for the EU who on proposing the backstop meant there was no way out of the arrangement. Now a simple majority in the NI Assembly will enable this mechanism to operate every four years.
- The deal means we will continue to see:
- An end to free movement by leaving the single market
- We will leave the EU customs Union
- Law making will return to Parliament by leaving the ECJ
- We will leave the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy, regaining control of our territorial waters.
- Now we have confidence and certainty that a deal is imminent, which is vital to so many families and businesses.
If the deal is passed through the House of Commons, we will immediately start negotiating free trade agreements with the EU and continue negotiating with other countries around the world. We already have many deals in place.
Scaremongering from Labour
Rather than support what the British people voted for Labour have set about to scaremonger. They have questioned Workers rights, environmental protection and invented the ridiculous notion that our NHS is for sale. I include some useful answers to the most frequent questions:
Q: Is Jeremy Corbyn right when he says the UK will fall behind on workers’ rights due to the deal?
No – this is obvious scaremongering from Labour. The UK has led the EU and the world in higher standards in a range of areas.
The Withdrawal Agreement Bill includes provisions on workers’ rights intended to protect and strengthen rights where Parliament believes it is in the UK’s best interest and enables Parliament to have its say.
Whilst just last week we outlined plans for new measures to make work fairer – this follows on from our plans to increase the National Living Wage to £10.50 by 2024.
UK standard EU minimum
£10.50 an hour by 2024 No requirement
28 weeks No minimum
52 weeks 14 weeks
28 days 20 days
Q: Does this new deal mean we will fall behind the EU on environmental protections?
No – again this is Labour scaremongering. Under the Conservatives, this country will always be a world leader on the environment – and we will use Brexit as an opportunity to go further.
Last week we published our world-class landmark Environment Bill which establishes new legally binding targets on air quality, environmental biodiversity and plastics reduction – with a new independent Office for Environmental Protection so we can deliver a Green Brexit.
Q: Will the NHS be part of trade talks with the USA?
No. Under no circumstances would we agree to any free trade deal that put the NHS on the table. The Prime Minister and the Health Secretary have been clear that it is not for sale.
The Prime Minister achieved almost the impossible in renegotiating the parts of the withdrawal agreement that couldn’t get through Parliament under Mrs May. This is a good deal – I will vote for it if you elect me as your next MP for North Norfolk and then we can move on, out of political Union with the EU and focus on a bright future for all of the UK.