Gainsborough MP explains why he won’t back the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal

The draft Withdrawal Agreement has now been with us for sufficient time to permit a number of reflections

The first thing that must be remembered is that it is only a draft.

Sir Edward Leigh MP

Sir Edward Leigh MP

Like me, many MPs are justifiably sceptical of its content and it may very well never pass.

The second observation is that, even if it does pass, its provisions are only temporary and a stepping stone to something more permanent.

However, I have to admit that my objections to this agreement are numerous and, when considered together, they make it impossible for me to support the proposal in its current form.

For example, the draft agreement provides that the UK will be subject to EU-determined rules even though it will have no say in their drafting

Unlike the Treaty on European Union itself, there will be no get-out clause that allows the UK, for example, to unilaterally end the ‘backstop’ arrangement for Northern Ireland, making it possible the UK could be trapped in a customs union indefinitely.

The European Court of Justice would continue to have the final say over both the Withdrawal Agreement and the application of EU law in the United Kingdom.

During the transition, the Common Fisheries Policy will continue and its quotas will be drafted without the UK having a place at the table.

There is even the possibility of joint management of UK waters.

Astonishingly, this proposed Withdrawal Agreement hands over £39 billion of taxpayers’ money without even the guarantee of a permanent trade deal.

This means the UK is deprived of a carrot to sweeten negotiations for a final deal leaving all the cards in the EU’s hands.

While the circumstances of the proposed agreement would be temporary, it could be extended and it leaves Britain in a worse-off position.

As the Prime Minister has been insistent that she hopes the ‘backstop’ is never invoked, I have written to her and spoken in the House of Commons encouraging her to make a statement clarifying that, if the backstop is invoked, the UK will abrogate those parts of the agreement before the end of the current Parliament in 2022.

This upholds the long constitutional proviso in this country that no Parliament can bind its successors.

It would also provide reassurance the UK will not be trapped in an endless customs union it cannot escape from.

In its current form, the draft Withdrawal Agreement must be rejected, but the priority as ever is on ensuring that Brexit happens.

Once Britain is out, it will be free to pursue the options it finds most desirable.

As a country, Britain must take advantage of the building blocks already in place to unlock the as-yet-unleashed potential of striking its own trade deals.

Britain has the capability to thrive as an independent player in the international arena and it must work towards that goal.