Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown speaks in the final day of the debate on the Brexit withdrawal agreement

15th January 2019

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown explains why he will support the deal to give businesses certainty and because of the risk of ending up with no deal, but he makes it clear to the Government that they must come back with a better deal.

I intend to change my mind. I am a Brexiteer through and through. It is in my DNA. We gave the British people the opportunity to vote in a referendum on 23 June in 2016, and I intend to vote to honour that in full. In return, however, I expect my colleagues on the Front Bench to pay very close attention to my concerns about this particular deal.

I happen to believe that we have a very bright future outside the EU. The current legal position is that we are leaving without a deal unless the House overturns the legislation. The ultimate irony is that all the people who vote against the deal tonight are more likely to end up with a no deal, and I do not want to see that happen. I want us to leave with an agreed deal, and an agreed deal that is acceptable to the British people.

I have two main reservations. First, I think that we need legal clarification about withdrawal from the Irish backstop within a specified time, preferably no longer than two years. My second major objection to the backstop is that it ties us into a customs union with the EU. I want us to get out of that customs union so that we can have an independent trade policy. I think that the best future for this country is to be outside the EU, trading with growing nations around the world, but we cannot do that while we are stuck in the backstop.

I therefore intend to vote for the deal tonight. I intend to sort this matter out for my constituents, as I promised, and I intend to give businesses certainty, but in return, I want the Government to come back with a better deal.

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