Barnoldswick & Earby Time, Colne Times and Nelson Leader Column: Friday 14th December 2018

My Column 14/12/18

This week in Parliament, MPs had expected to have to vote on the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement on how we leave the EU in March 2019. As it happened, this was delayed as it was clear Parliament would not support the deal and the Prime Minister has gone back to the EU. I think this was the right decision, as whilst most MPs can agree on the majority of the deal, there are some real concerns about certain aspects which need to be addressed.

Hundreds of Pendle residents had contacted me urging me to either back the deal, or oppose the deal and over a thousand have completed a survey I have put up on my Facebook page. Those wanting me to oppose the deal did so either because they don’t like the deal and want us to have a clean break with the EU, or because they want us to stay in the EU.

I would prefer a clean break with the EU but had planned to back the deal because I do not believe we will leave the EU without one, as Parliament has made it clear that it will do all it can to prevent a no-deal Brexit. My judgement was that opposing the Prime Minister’s deal would lead to a failure to honour the referendum result – a huge breach of trust by politicians.

Unfortunately concerns about the deal and the decision to delay the vote led to a vote of confidence in the Prime Minister on Wednesday evening. Theresa May won the vote by 200 to 117 votes. Whilst worrying so many colleagues have concerns about Theresa May’s leadership, she won a higher number of votes than in the leadership election two years ago. We all need to unite and get on with delivering the outcome of the referendum.

Having campaigned for Leave in 2016 and been re-elected in 2017 on a promise to deliver Brexit (as were all other Conservative and Labour MPs), my priority in the days and weeks ahead will be to ensure we do leave the EU on 29 March 2019, with or without a deal.

It all provided a great deal to write about in my daily notes to the Queen and a lot to discuss during my Audience with Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace on Thursday.