Chloe Smith
MP for Norwich North

Brexit Blog: Provisional Terms of the Draft Withdrawal Agreement

Author: Chloe Smith, Updated: 16 November 2018 09:15

On Wednesday, you may have seen the Government has agreed the provisional terms of the draft Withdrawal Agreement, an agreement which will facilitate our smooth and orderly exit from the EU. In addition to this, the Government has also agreed the broad foundations for the terms of our future relationship with the EU as outlined in the Political Declaration.  You can see these documents for yourself here:

Yesterday the Prime Minister delivered a statement to the House of Commons to update us on the progress of the EU exit negotiations. I would strongly urge you to read the transcript of the Prime Minister’s statement which can be found here:

I believe this is a deal worthy of support, and I intend to vote to support it in Parliament in the next few weeks.  I’m setting out my views here for constituents.

If you want to meet to let me know your views before the upcoming votes in Parliament, I am available as always for constituents in Norwich.  Email me to make an appointment.   

As the Prime Minister has said, delivering Brexit has meant difficult choices for everyone.  So there are some compromises here.  But that’s what a deal is.  I have the privilege to sit in the House of Commons and use my judgement, and I think that what has been achieved is significant and will help my constituents.

We can all recognise that there have been different views about Brexit.  Since the referendum, some people have continued to argue passionately for the things they believe are right.  I understand those arguments, and even where I don’t agree with them myself, I respect them. 

It’s time now to get on and make a success of leaving the EU.

This deal is a sensible way to do that, and the only way to do that.  I have seen no alternative blueprint either in this country or the European capitals.  No one should be under any illusions that the EU would be prepared to scrap this deal and start again.

Crucially, this agreement will take back control of our laws, borders and money whilst also maintaining the integrity of our United Kingdom. The agreement also protects the rights of more than three million EU citizens living in the UK and around one million UK nationals living in the EU.

The Withdrawal Agreement also includes a time limited implementation period which would mean businesses would only have to plan for one set of changes as we leave the EU.

The British Government and the EU have agreed on the creation of a free trade area for goods, with regulatory and customs cooperation and zero tariffs.  This is the first ever such agreement between an advanced economy and the EU.  Common ground has been reached too on our intention to have a close relationship on services, which I have argued before are very important to many thousands of jobs in Norwich.

I am sure you will have seen a lot of media speculation around the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland and the political mechanism which has become known as “the backstop”, intended to prevent there being a hard border.

Preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland is best solved through our future relationship with the European Union.  The backstop is just a “fallback” arrangement, an insurance policy, that protects the integrity of our United Kingdom, but one which both sides have said we never want to be used.  There is no deal, which delivers the Brexit the people voted for, that does not involve this insurance policy.

You may be aware, however, that the Government has secured a number of concessions from the EU towards our own position.  The EU’s proposal for arrangements that made Northern Ireland different to the rest of the UK have been dropped.  The people and businesses of the whole of the UK will continue to trade together fully and be part of one country.

So what comes next?  Now we have agreed how we are withdrawing, and agreed the broad terms of our future relationship, we can move forward to finalising the details of our ambitious future partnership with the EU.  This week’s agreement, hard-won though it is, is actually not the final deal but a starting point for our future relationship with Europe.  

Those broad terms are published this week and are known as the “Political Declaration”.  It means:

  • Ending free movement and introducing our new skills-based immigration system.
  • Visa-free travel for tourism and temporary business activity, to ensure businesses can continue to provide services and move their talented people.
  • A free trade area and deep cooperation on goods, with zero tariffs and quotas.
  • The ability to strike trade deals around the world.
  • Ambitious arrangements for services and investment, alongside new arrangements on financial services.
  • The UK will be an independent coastal state, with commitments to ensure sustainable fishing levels and a new fisheries agreement with the EU.
  • The UK will be outside the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.
  • Comprehensive and close reciprocal law enforcement and judicial cooperation to keep people safe.
  • A close and flexible partnership, including UK participation in EU missions and capability projects on a case by case basis; and consultation on sanctions; supported by the timely exchange of information and intelligence.

For us here in Norwich, I see that this agreement offers the best available access to European markets.  There’s no other advanced nation in the world that has a better deal. This deal offers stability at an uncertain time, and an environment you can succeed in.  That is crucial for businesses, and I have always said that my constituency priority is to support a deal which is good for jobs and businesses here in Norwich. 

Now is the time for cool, calm heads to prevail and it is the time for a clear-eyed focus on building our future relationship with the European Union, one that sees the way through for more good jobs and investment in Norwich and Britain.

This deal still needs to be turned into law, through the next few months in our Parliament.  Our whole country has had its say in principle through the referendum, and now MPs will have to decide whether to back this deal or reject it.  Then we can get on to the many other big issues facing our country which we all care about.

Let’s get behind it, help people come back together again, and make a success of our future partnership with our European neighbours.