Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Campaign reply - 38 degrees campaign on the Brexit deal

I have recently received a number of 38 Degrees campaign emails from my constituents regarding the Brexit deal. A number of my constituents have said that they want the cleanest possible break, while others hope to see a Norway-style deal that keeps us close to the EU.

I am grateful to them for giving me this opportunity to clearly layout my position on the Brexit deal.

I have read and considered the 585 page Brexit deal proposed by the Prime Minister, and I have come to the conclusion, as have many MPs across the political spectrum, that this is not something I can support.

Deciding to oppose a key policy of your party leadership and government is not something I do lightly. However, there are times when as an MP you have to make a stand for what you believe. Since making my statement public I have been overwhelmed by the number of emails and comments on social media supporting my view. It is clear that a majority of local people, certainly those who have been in touch with me, agree with me.

I have been honoured to twice be elected to represent the people of St Austell and Newquay. On both occasions, firstly when I asked you to put your trust in me to become your MP in 2015, and then when I stood for re-election last year, the promise of a delivery of a Referendum on our Membership of the EU and then the delivery of the decision of the British people was at the heart of the manifesto I stood on.

The UK, Cornwall and our constituency in particular, with the St Austell and Newquay Parliamentary constituency returning the strongest Leave vote in Cornwall, voted to leave the EU in 2016.

I am sorry to say that the Prime Minister’s deal does not deliver on our promise of the Referendum, which was to leave the EU and regain our sovereignty as an independent nation state.

My fundamental objection to the proposed deal is that it puts us in a worse position than we are currently. It neither delivers the commitments made by the Prime Minister to the British people, commitments made time and time again in speeches and at the dispatch box. Nor does it allow us to take advantage of the opportunities Brexit will present as an outward looking global nation.

For the first time in our history we will be in a position where we will be locked into a union that we will not be free to leave without the agreement of the other party. This most clearly is not taking back control and is unacceptable to me.

More so, it keeps us in a Customs Union, expressly against the Conservative 2017 Manifesto and commitments made numerous times by the Prime Minister. Whilst the deal presents this as a transitional arrangement, the fact is that we would not be able to leave without the agreement of the EU.

Further I believe the fishing community has been let down by this deal and left in a position where the future control of our waters and therefore the future of this industry is very much in question. This is not what we were promised when the Prime Minister visited Mevagissey in 2017.

Within hours of the agreement being accepted by the 27 EU states, the French President was on the airways making clear that he would not agree to us leaving the Customs Union unless we allowed French boats access to our fishing waters.

There is a very real danger of us being locked into the backstop and the EU having us right where they want us until we agree to their demands.

I have always said I am a Cornishman first and a Conservative second. This deal, as I see it, is not in the best interests of Cornwall or our country.

As such, when this deal is put before Parliament, as it currently stands, I will vote against it.

A Norway-style deal would also problematic because being a EEA member would bind us to accepting the four freedoms of the EU - the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour. In my mind a Norway-style Brexit would be a dishonest one because the British public voted the leave the EU, including its four fundamental pillars. It would also mean that we would be subjected to much of the EU’s laws and regulations with much, if any, say in the decision-making process. Norway does not itself formally participate in the EU’s decision-making but the Norwegian government has incorporated around 75% of EU law into its national legislation.

Like you, I am a democrat and I believe that in order to safeguard our democracy and restore trust in our politics we need to implement the will of the nation and deliver the Brexit as expressed in the results of the referendum, and pursue a true and honest break from the EU’s shackles. 

Thank you again for taking the time to write to me.