I continue to keep constituents updated with all the latest developments on Brexit here on my blog. And as I have said each time, I am really grateful for everyone who is letting me know their views, which I read carefully.
The last blog set out how there would be 3 votes this week:
1. On the improved deal which remains on the table
2. If the deal is rejected, on whether to leave the EU without a deal
3. If leaving without a deal is rejected, on whether to seek an extension to our time in the EU
So what happened this week, and how did I vote, as your MP?
First, I voted in favour of the deal. By doing this I voted to deliver on the referendum result and deliver a pragmatic Brexit. This is consistent with my previous votes, and previous blogs will tell you why I still support that deal. I am disappointed that this did not pass the Commons.
The second vote ended up being a vote on rejecting leaving the EU without a deal in any circumstances.
I did not support this, because it is not realistic.
You can only leave with a deal if you vote for a deal. Parliament has to do this if it wants to avoid ‘no deal’. I believe ‘no deal’ is potentially damaging for my constituents, and I therefore urge Parliament to support the deal which is negotiated and available – as above!
Having listened to constituents, and to many arguments put on every side of this debate, I’m focused on what will best provide jobs and opportunities for my constituents. I am also determined to respect the result of the referendum. I also know that people now want us to get on with it, and provide as much certainty as possible about the way ahead so that people can plan their lives and their decisions.
Therefore, in the third vote, I voted against an extension to our time in the EU.
This is also known as ‘extending Article 50’, meaning seeking to agree an extension to the two years’ notice which the UK gave to the EU of leaving under the exit clause contained in article 50 of the relevant treaty.
I voted against an extension because I want to be clear that we are leaving the EU. As I have consistently argued, it would be much better to leave with an agreed deal with our friends and neighbours, but even if Parliament and the EU do not manage to do this, we still have to leave. People and businesses need certainty on this point.
(There was also a vote in Parliament this week which rejected holding a second referendum. I voted against a second referendum for reasons which I have also set out before here in these blogs. It is wrong to try to seek a different result if you just didn’t like the first one, and it would risk stringing out uncertainty and division at the very time we need to be getting on with it and coming back together as a country.)
What happens next then?
Well, although it went against my own view, the vote did pass in favour of seeking an extension to Article 50. Therefore, the UK may not now leave on 29th March as previously planned. Brexit could be delayed by three months, to 30th June, if MPs back the available deal in a vote next week. This would simply be a short, technical extension to tie up the necessary legislation to enable the withdrawal deal to work.
If the Commons rejects the deal again then the Prime Minister will seek a longer extension - but any delay has to be agreed by the 27 other EU member states.
The Commons will vote once again on the tabled deal by 20th March. I will continue my work in Parliament to support getting a pragmatic deal, because that’s what is in the best interests of my constituents in Norwich North.
I will report back here to you again soon.