I believe leaving the EU on 29th March 2019 without a deal would be deeply damaging to the economy, employers and the finances of households in Watford. That’s why I have pressed the Prime Minister to avoid this scenario at all costs and provide businesses with the certainty they need at this critical point.
On Monday morning, I received an email from a company based in Watford Business Park who are in a position to expand and employ more staff in our area, but are choosing not to because of the lack of clarity surrounding our departure from the EU. This is a tragedy and so something had to be done.
Earlier this week, I called on the Prime Minister to do voluntarily, what the Cooper-Letwin Amendment would have required her to do, which is to allow a procedure whereby MPs can prevent a hard Brexit.
I am very pleased that the commitment she made at the despatch box yesterday mirrors that exactly and will effectively prevent a no deal Brexit on 29 March.
We will have the meaningful vote on 12th March, and I very much hope that the House of Commons will get behind the Prime Minister’s deal, which has always had my full support.
But if this doesn’t happen, then it’s only right that Parliament will have a say on a no deal Brexit. There is clearly no majority in the House of Commons for it, and so it would almost certainly be ruled out in a vote.
At this stage, MPs would then be given the chance to secure more time to find a compromise through the extension of article 50. This is relatively easily done by way of a statutory instrument. Any motion would be amendable and so Parliament would effectively have the power to take over the process if they are not satisfied.
My hope is that the Prime Minister’s deal will be voted through and I urge all colleagues to support it. If there was ever a time to compromise on the precise terms and timing of our leaving the EU, then it is now.
For my part, her deal is the only way to deliver on the results of the 2016 referendum without damaging the economy. It will remove us from European Political Institutions and the jurisdiction of the European Court; from the Common Fisheries Policy and from the Common Agricultural Policy. We will no longer pay annual contributions to the EU budget and the rules that allow uncapped immigration, will no longer apply to us. But, most importantly, it will ensure a smooth and non-disruptive departure, with a transition period that will mean we can negotiate the details of a free trade agreement, on which so much of our manufacturing industry depends.