Department for Exiting the European Union

UPDATE 21 MAY:

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding Brexit.

 

It now seems clear that there will be no cross-party agreement bill with Labour on leaving the EU. The Government intends to put the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to Parliament in early June.

 

Last week, senior members of the Prime Minister’s team outlined the difficulties with the other alternatives. On revoke, I agree that it would be an absolute outrage. On a General Election, I agree that it may not return a majority with a decisive outcome. On No Deal, it is clear that this will not get the approval of a majority in Parliament, given that only 160 out of 650 MPs voted for it previously.

 

The big obstacle to progressing Brexit is the current make-up of Parliament. Changing our leader is not ultimately going to alter this arithmetic. Some colleagues may proclaim that they will renegotiate with the EU or threaten No Deal, but the EU will merely point out that they will not get Parliament to follow-through on their threat. Even if we did get a negotiated deal, which I would welcome, some of the Remain supporters on my benches would probably switch support for the deal and reject it. Therefore, for every Brexiteer we get to back an amended deal, we would lose another from the other wing.

 

Regardless, the Prime Minister has signalled that she will set a date for her departure after the Withdrawal Agreement Bill has been voted on in Parliament in early June. This will trigger a leadership contest. Delivering on Brexit and leaving the EU remains a top priority, unless we do this. The default position is to leave the EU without a deal on October 31st. I believe it is better for all concerned to agree a deal; we can then focus more effectively on matters that are really important to people – such as jobs, education and the environment.

 

I will continue to do what I can to find a way through this challenging time.

 

Thank you for writing to me, as ever I shall that this issue step by step but always with the good of Taunton Deane at heart.

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UPDATE 1 APRIL:

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding Brexit.

It was disappointing that the deal did not get through, first on 15 January and then again on 12 March. It was comprehensive and did enable us to respect the outcome of the referendum, allowing us to leave the EU in an orderly way, giving business a clear signal of when and how.

However, now it is beholden on us to move on, because individuals and businesses in Taunton Deane, and particularly EU citizens who have made their home here as well as UK citizens living in the EU, deserve clarity about what the House does support.

This is an unprecedented time and a way forward, putting the country first must be found and quickly.

In the indicative votes last week, I voted for two completely contrasting options, one was for the Common Market 2.0 and the other the EEA/EFTA option to demonstrate that I was prepared to consider possible options that I could live with. This week, in the indicative votes, I voted for the Common Market 2.0 option, again as a show of willingness to come to some kind of compromise that would enable us to leave and respect the outcome of the referendum, but to make sure we leave with a deal that would not jeopardise business and would enable us to leave the Common Agricultural Policy, Common Fisheries Policy, and achieve a number of the other outcomes, so many people have called for.

The Prime Minister and the Cabinet have now agreed that talks will open with the Opposition Leader to agree a plan so that we leave with a deal. This will include the Withdrawal Agreement and will focus on the future relationship with the EU.

The plan is to take this to the EU next week – if a confirmed approach cannot be agreed, then a number of options for the future relationship will be put to the House in a series of votes and Theresa May has agreed to abide by the decision of the House. The idea then is to bring forward the WB and pass it by May 22nd with no need to take part in the EU elections.

Regarding the notion of a so-called ‘People’s Vote’, I believe it is the duty of politicians to implement the result of the referendum, not suggest the public got it wrong. This would set a difficult precedent and undermine faith in democracy.

Thank you for writing to me, as ever I shall continue to take the issue step by step but always with the good of Taunton Deane at heart.

 

UPDATE 29 MARCH:

I rise to support the motion. I have not spoken in many of these debates, but I have been driven to speak. We have heard time and ​again from all the same people, but not much from what I call the voices of reason. I am speaking because I am exasperated and fed up with the bickering that has gone on in this House. It cannot be beyond the wit of the men and women of this great place to come to a decision that puts the good of the nation first.

Every single day, obfuscation—I cannot say the word very well because I am so exasperated—causes more difficulties for the businesses of this country. We rely on those businesses to fuel our economy and give us jobs so that people can work and pay taxes and we have the public services that we need. A recent straw poll that I undertook of businesses clearly highlights that they want a decision, they want it now and they do not want it in a year’s time.

Many individuals confess that they do not understand half of what we are debating in this place and many wish they had never heard of it all. I do not profess to be legal, but I do know that we have to make a decision. Some 52% of people in Taunton Deane voted out, while 48% voted to remain. I said that I would respect that decision. I have moved from supporting remain and I am putting the country first.

 17.4 million people voted to leave and yes there was a roar for change, but more than 16 million people gave a yell to be noticed as well. That indicates that we need compromise. We have had nearly three years of debate in this place. I ask colleagues this: how many people have really changed their position? The polarisation is frankly disturbing.

Today, let us demonstrate that we can take one small step for Parliament and one giant step for the UK and the men and women of this nation by passing the withdrawal agreement—the legally binding agreement that sets out the UK’s departure from the EU bloc, that fits with EU rules and that involves the longer extension to 22 May. That is a legal right, as the Attorney General clearly outlined, and it takes us straight to the Bill, which was also touched on by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr Duncan Smith).

Let us not forget that both Labour and the Conservatives committed to honouring the results of the referendum. I ask right hon. and hon. Members on both sides: can we really countenance voting against Brexit on the day when Brexit was meant to happen? I find that extraordinary. By separating the agreement from the declaration, which sets out the framework for the future relationship, we can go on and continue to discuss what type of Brexit we really want, and it has to be something that we can all live with. I still firmly believe the PM’s deal was a good one. She has fought doggedly and determinedly—I do not think anyone can disagree with that—and I believe that she has come up with a very comprehensive deal, which fundamentally is good.

I voted in the indicative votes and did what people may think is a strange thing: I voted aye to two completely contrasting things—a closer relationship with the customs ​union and a relationship with the European economic area and the European Free Trade Association—because I felt that I had to indicate that we needed to reach consensus in the House. Neither was my favourite, and neither was as good as the Prime Minister’s deal. Today, at least let us get this over the line. Let us discuss all the other permutations later. Let us demonstrate to the nation that we can all work together, at least today. Let us make it, step by step. I say this to my children and to my husband, who is not very well and who is watching this at home: step by step, all things are possible. As the sun shines on a glorious spring day in Taunton Deane, let us bring some of that sunshine to the rest of the nation and vote for this today.

 

I was in the House until approximately 2am this morning. I made my Brexit speech and discussed my support for the deal for the good of the country and business.

UPDATE 16 JAN: 

It was disappointing that the deal did not get through. It was comprehensive and did enable us to respect the outcome of the referendum enabling us to leave the EU in an orderly way giving business a clear signal of when and how.

However, now it is beholden on us to move on, because individuals and businesses in Taunton Deane and particularly EU citizens who have made their home here and UK citizens living in the EU, deserve clarity about what the House does support.

I am hopeful that the debate and subsequent vote on Wednesday will demonstrate  this Government still enjoys the confidence of the House. If it does, quite rightly the PM will meet with Conservative colleagues, our Confidence and Supply partner the DUP, and senior Parliamentarians from across the House to identify what would be required to secure the backing of the House.

There are already many discussions on options underway and I am involved in a number of these to understand the best approach. Once genuinely negotiable ideas are agreed on and have sufficient support in the House, the Government will then explore them with the EU.

This is an unprecedented time and a way forward, putting the country first must be found and quickly.