MP's column

‘In the international interest and delivering a good Brexit’ is how the Prime Minister is promoting the draft Withdrawal Bill and declaration of our future relationship with the EU. Based on my email inbox and the very vocal reaction of many Members of Parliament from all sides of the Brexit debate, this is not how it has been perceived.

Personally, I want to be certain that this deal delivers for West Cornwall, Scilly and the UK as a whole. To satisfy me (and many of those who have contacted me) this deal must lead to the UK becoming a Sovereign Independent State with full control over our own laws. 

There must be nothing in the agreement that undermines the integrity of Britain and Northern Ireland and nothing agreed should risk any part of the UK being treated differently. This is not an insignificant point. Neither is the need for assurance that access to UK waters will be completely in the control of the UK by the end of 2020 (when the transition period concludes) and that the UK has unfettered ability to strike free trade deals with countries outside of the EU (from March next year).

These are both clear promises previously made by the PM but today it is unclear that the draft withdrawal bill delivers these commitments.

Finally, the issue which unites MPs from all sides is the belief that, should the Withdrawal Bill be adopted, the UK does not have the sovereign right to decide when we leave the EU.

Should the UK and the EU not make adequate progress towards a frictionless free trade deal by June 2020, MPs will be asked to vote to either extend the transition period or introduce the backstop (EU-set rules and arrangements for the import and export of goods).

The backstop prohibits the implementation of new trade deals on goods with the rest of the world. The concern is that the EU would be legally able to extend the backstop indefinitely. The vote in June 2020 does not currently allow MPs to bring the transition period to an end by January 1st 2021. The minute we agree to the withdrawal agreement we hand over the timetable for when the UK leaves the EU to bureaucrats in Brussels. This is the general understanding and interpretation of the draft agreement proposed last week.

I’ve written to the Attorney General, the Government’s legal advisor, asking him to provide absolute clarity on these points. Should he confirm our fears then this draft proposal is not a good deal or in the national interest and I could not support it. There is still time to resolve these concerns. A No Deal is not inevitable.