At this stage in the process of delivering the outcome of the 2016 referendum, there is nothing to be gained for the UK by changing the leader of the Conservative Party. To pursue this process will not change the Parliamentary arithmetic and will put the process back in time.
As Prime Minister, Theresa May has demonstrated time after time her commitment to see the process of leaving the EU through to its logical conclusion. She has always shown respect for the outcome of the referendum.
The agreement covers the transition period only and enables discussion on the UK’s long term relationship to commence.
The Withdrawal Agreement covers a broad range of topics: citizens’ rights; a financial settlement; a backstop to ensure there will be no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland; protocols on Cyprus and Gibraltar. As such it was always going to be a lengthy document which would require concessions, both between different strands of thought here in the UK, and with the remaining 27 EU nations. It has taken many months to deliver, and no one group was ever going to be completely satisfied. It is some surprise to me that some people condemned it before it was even published.
A key concern for many of my constituents in Rugby and a reason why they voted to leave was a desire for the UK to take back control of its borders. The agreement starts the process to achieve this, as well as taking control of our money and our laws by ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and coming out of both the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy.
As a member of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee, over the past 18 months I have heard representatives of UK manufacturing businesses tell me how important it is to retain access to the European Market and to enable a free flow of parts and components. By retaining a Free Trade Area in goods with zero tariffs this agreement enables us to continue to trade easily with our closest neighbours.
The agreement avoids the dangers of No Deal, which would have serious implications for UK companies. Reverting to World Trade Organisation only terms would require customs inspections on all exports and imports; the number of forms for exports would quadruple, costing up to £20bn a year and No Deal would also mean a hard border in Northern Ireland, with implications for security.
The agreement safeguards the rights of three million EU citizens in the UK and the one million UK citizens who currently reside in EU countries.
Of course, the Prime Minister would have liked to have been able to negotiate further concessions from the EU. The remaining 27 EU members have made it clear that this deal represents their limits. I struggle to understand therefore, how any other group expects to improve on these terms by starting again at square one.
Finally, the agreement respects the outcome of the 2016 referendum, when voters throughout the UK made their views clear. It would be disrespectful to democracy for a further referendum to take place in the hope that the people “get it right this time.”
Copyright 2018 Mark Pawsey MP Member of Parliament for Rugby & Bulkington. All rights reserved.