HAYES IN THE HOUSE: Why I can't give PM my vote as things stand
Over recent days the Prime Minister's proposed Brexit deal has been debated in the House of Commons. To delay a vote which was bound to be lost was the right thing to do.
Whatever people might think of her wider political policy position, Theresa May has dedicated herself to the national interest at a time of considerable uncertainty. Having worked alongside her as a Minister in the Home Office, I can testify to the determined and tireless commitment to public service that motivates her decision-making. It is crucial to differentiate between her policy and her personal qualities.
Whilst I have no doubt that some of those seeking to challenge Mrs May’s leadership are motivated by a genuine desire to deliver the best possible Brexit, others are doubtless burdened by different baggage.
Last month, I met the Prime Minister to make clear that her EU deal would not succeed and to make the case for a ‘plan b’, which addressed the concerns which many of my constituents had raised about a lengthy transition period and endless Northern Irish backstop. As I told this newspaper at the time, I amplified these continuing concerns back then. Having opposed for decades the EU’s creeping control of our nation’s fortunes, I am delighted that we are escaping its clutches. Nevertheless, any negotiation means making compromises as well as recognising the need for an orderly withdrawal. For these reasons, my personal red lines are these:
So, the prospect of an indefinite Irish backstop means that the Prime Minister’s proposed deal does not guarantee a clean and definite Brexit
Taking back control of our laws – Claiming back power for British voters is non-negotiable. 100 per cent of our laws must be made in this country, by our Parliament answerable to the British people. The politically correct dogma forced upon us by the European Court of Justice must also come to an end. The Prime Minister’s deal delivers on this manifesto promise. However, the remit of any arbitration panel adjudicating on legal disputes between the EU and UK must be restricted to the interpretation of EU law. Any extension to this limited role would make the deal unacceptable.
Ending free movement – Reclaiming our sovereign borders as a nation state at the heart of our welcome departure from the EU. Whilst it is vital that a sufficient ‘seasonal agriculture workers scheme’ is put in place, together with visas for those with skills we need, we simply cannot sustain population growth at the rate our country has endured in recent years. We must urgently and significantly reduce immigration. The Prime Minister agrees and her deal deliver’s a welcome end to free movement.
A clean break – I have long believed that once we have left the EU, the direction of travel will take us still further away from a project committed to ever deeper integration and unprepared to address its inherent democratic deficiencies. So, the prospect of an indefinite Irish backstop, which separates Ulster from the rest of the United Kingdom or a long transition period sadly means that the Prime Minister’s proposed deal does not guarantee a clean and definite Brexit.
Even at this late stage, if the proposal changes to address the concerns that so many have, it might yet get through, but as it stands it just won’t do.
However, if the deal is indeed put to a vote and defeated, I urge my Party to remain united, while the Prime Minister goes back to the negotiating table, using whatever means necessary, to demand from the EU a treaty which means that the United Kingdom is able to unilaterally end any backstop within a given time. She will then get my vote for the success she deserves.