I am a bit of a loyalist- to my Party as much as to my country. But I cannot be loyal to the emerging ‘Deal’ announced last week at Chequers and beefed up in this week’s Brexit White Paper. It bears little resemblance to what most normal people had hoped Brexit would mean. In the words of the former Foreign Secretary, it means that ‘The Brexit Dream is dying.’ I have always been a strong supporter of a true Brexit, and will not therefore be supporting this Chequers agreement when it comes before the House in the Autumn. I believe that a large number of my colleagues will not do so either, in which case it stands no chance of becoming law.
I hope that The Prime Minster will listen very carefully to messages such as mine and in the aftermath of recent turbulence and resignations will re-think her Brexit Deal proposals, aligning them better with her own commitment to ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and ’No deal is better than a bad deal.’ There remains a good chance, of course, that M Barnier will turn this proposal down, or seek to change it, for example with regard to the free movement of people. That would be wholly unacceptable.
It is true that we do have Brexit, albeit not the kind the people voted for. We are leaving the EU, the Single Market and the Customs Union (sort of). We are - with a few caveats – taking back control of our borders, our trade and our laws. And some would therefore argue that maybe ‘a Brexit in the hand is worth two in the bush’. Only a year or two ago, they would say, the very notion of our departure from the EU at all would have been unthinkable.
But all of the evidence is that what is now on offer is the worst of all possible worlds. For example, we will be tied into EU rules and regulations on all manufactured goods; we would have no say over those regulations; and we would be paying £39 Billion for the privilege of becoming an EU vassal state.
So I will be working to persuade the PM that what she has proposed at Chequers is unacceptable, and does not deliver the Brexit which 52% of the people voted for. She is unlikely to persuade the EU to accept it without further amendment, and will not anyhow get it through the Commons. She must therefore change what she has proposed in some very fundamental ways.
For now, I do not want any kind of Leadership challenge. If she won a Vote of No Confidence hands down, her position would be strengthened, not weakened. If she lost it there would be a long Leadership battle with Brexit negotiations on hold; and the outcome of that election would be wholly unpredictable. There would be at least a chance that a Remainer would become PM. So a Leadership challenge at this stage would be a very high risk gamble. I would much prefer simply to persuade the PM that the Chequers agreement is unworkable, and ask her to think again about it.
I may be an unwilling rebel; but this issue is so big, so very important to me, and I believe to the majority of my constituents that I have told the PM and my whip that I will indeed be disagreeing with the Chequers deal when it comes to the Commons.