Last week, Parliament decisively rejected the proposals negotiated by the Government on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. I firmly believe that it remains in the best interests of businesses, residents and individuals throughout Rugby that we do leave with a deal that protects jobs, growth and investment and enable us to deliver a strong economy.
On Monday the Prime Minister returned to the House of Commons to set out how the Government intends to proceed in the national interest. I am pleased that the Prime Minister has held meetings with the Westminster leaders of the Liberal Democrats; the Scottish National Party; the Democratic Unionist Party; the Green Party & Plaid Cymru as well as backbenchers from all sides of the House. It was notable that the Leader of the Labour Party chose not to attend. These talks will enable Parliament to form the basis of an agreement which has the support of the House of Commons.
I am also pleased that the Prime Minister announced to the House of Commons that the £65 fee for settled status applications will be waived. This is something which has concerned a number of residents and on which I have written to Ministers. Many of us have friends or family members who have moved to the UK and who make a valuable contribution to our economy, our community and our society. They remain welcome in the UK and I would ask that anyone who encounters difficulty with this process contacts my office.
Over the past weeks and months, many hundreds of local residents have written to me, sent emails and called my office in relation to the Withdrawal Agreement. It is clear that the proposed “Northern Ireland Backstop” represents the greatest concern with this process. As such, I welcome that the Prime Minister will be seeking legally binding changes to this part of the Withdrawal Agreement in order to deliver on the result of the referendum and enable an orderly exit from the European Union.
Many other residents have called for a second referendum. I am unable to support this as I believe that the result of 2016 referendum must be respected. The Government and Parliament gave the British people the choice. I believe that a second referendum would be a betrayal of those who voted to leave and I fear would be disrespectful to our democracy.