Comments from Anna Soubry MP On Brexit – 16 November 2018

We quote below the comments made by Anna Soubry MP in Newsletter.


I feel the need to apologise for the dreadful mess that British politics is in. The Government is in chaos over Brexit with our Prime Minister facing attempts from Conservative MPs to remove her from office.

Meanwhile in the real world, most people are fed up with Brexit and in equal measure, are worried it will not deliver the benefits we were promised.

The Government has negotiated the terms of the withdrawal agreement and as it currently stands this will not win sufficient support in Parliament. The agreement settles the amount of money we will continue to pay to the EU (some £39 billion), a transition period after we leave in March 2019 and the so called “back stop” which details the arrangements that will come into force after the transition if we fail to negotiate the promised trade deal.

The Transition Period 

This begins after we leave in March 2019 and ends in December 2020. During that time, nothing will change except we will not have any say over any new rules or regulations. We will start the negotiations for our new arrangements with the EU. You will remember we were told this new trade deal would be very easy to negotiate and we were promised it before we left the EU. I believe it is wrong to negotiate such a critically important deal after we have left when our negotiating “hand” is considerably weaker. It marks for me an important, broken promise. During the transition (which can be extended) we will be allowed to negotiate but not implement our own trade deals with other countries (something we already do as a member of the EU).

The Back Stop

This most controversial part of the 500 page agreement dominates the document (and yes I have read it!). The “back stop” creates a UK wide customs union with special arrangements for Northern Ireland. We cannot leave this arrangement unless the European Court of Justice allows us to. Not surprisingly, Leave supporters on both sides of the House of Commons and Northern Irish politicians have rejected this part of Theresa May’s agreement with the EU, in particular.

The uncomfortable truth is that almost two and a half years on we still do not know what our new relationship with the EU will be. The options remain the same; with the so called Norway model (in effect, membership of the single market) which is what I have consistently argued and voted for (along with a Customs Union) or a free trade deal like the one recently struck between the EU and Canada. The former makes us a rule taker not a rule maker but does replicate the old Common Market and delivers for business as well as avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. The latter erects trade barriers and delivers a hard border – the Northern Ireland Select Committee (which is dominated by Leave supporting MPs) agreed there is no technology anywhere to “soften” such a border.

Theresa May has delivered a third way in the terms of the “back stop” and despite her assurances that she doesn’t want it to be our final destination, MPs on both sides of the Brexit debate agree that this will be the reality, and I agree with them. It is simply not what people voted for and represents a very, very bad deal. In my opinion it is certainly better than no deal which would be a catastrophe for our country. The Prime Minister has agreed we have three choices – her deal, or a hard Brexit, or we have no Brexit and stay in the EU. This third choice can only be delivered by returning Brexit to the people with a choice between Mrs May’s deal of staying in the EU. This is what I will argue and vote for.

Finally, I recognise there are some angry Leave voters who feel badly let down. Equally there are angry Remain voters. Increasingly, there are lots of young voters who strongly believe Brexit is bad for their future. They are indeed our future and they must now have their chance to make their voice heard on Brexit. A People’s Vote is not a re-run of the 2016 EU Referendum. It will be everyone’s chance to have their say on Brexit. Whatever happens in the next few weeks one thing is for sure. We have to change our politics and heal the deep divisions in our society. Let’s all agree on that.

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