This morning, I had a meeting and visit to North Cotswold Hospital, I discussed their local and urgent care plans to ensure residents get the treatment and support in the community that they need. Tonight, I will be returning to Westminster for the landmark Commons debate and vote on Saturday.
I have heard from many constituents in the past 24hrs, so I would like to start by clarifying that I will be supporting the deal tomorrow. We need to deliver the result of the referendum and end the uncertainty that delays are causing the people and businesses of this country.
The Prime Minister returned to Downing Street yesterday after negotiating a new deal which secures changes to the Irish backstop. As with all negotiations, compromise has been agreed with the UK accepting the EU customs checks in the Irish Sea in return for Northern Irish politicians having a say on continuing application of the new backstop.
Put simply, this new deal means:
- Britain is out of all EU laws. We will be able to change our laws in a huge number of areas, from product standards to fishing rules to farming subsidies, where we are currently bound by EU rules.
- We will be able to strike our own free trade deals. We will have an unqualified right to strike our own trade deals around the world, and the whole UK will participate in them.
- European Court supremacy ends in Britain. It will be our courts, applying our laws, which will be the highest authority in the land.
- We will be in control of our taxes. We will be able to change VAT rules and other tax laws that are currently determined by Brussels.
- Northern Ireland will be in the UK customs territory forever. There is now no doubt that Northern Ireland remains part of the UK’s customs territory and will benefit from the free trade deals we strike.
- The anti-democratic backstop has been abolished. The people of Northern Ireland will be in charge of the laws that they live by, and unlike the backstop will have the right to end the special arrangement if they so choose.
Today, the situation in Parliament continues to unfold, so this update is as things are as I write it.
The question today is, can Boris Johnson win the vote to pass his deal tomorrow in the commons? The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) have said they would not support the deal. With the current numbers, as of 3pm, are that 292 support the deal, 298 are against, and 49 are undecided. The Prime Minister needs 320 to pass the deal.
So, the Prime Minister will be spending today rallying the support to win tomorrow’s vote, selling the improvements to his deal and highlighting the opportunity it provides to delivering Brexit and moving on the agenda.
I am optimistic that the Prime Minister will receive the support he needs to pass the deal, but if the deal fails to win the support of Parliament tomorrow, the Benn Act will be triggered which requires the Government to request a further delay until 31 January.
If the deal is approved and there is enough time for legislation, we will leave on the 31 October. If there is not enough time to legislate, the Government will have to seek a short delay which if the EU refuses will lead to either a no-deal Brexit on the 31 October or a Vote of no Confidence.
Remain MP’s were expected to table a motion tomorrow to force a second referendum, although they seem to have decided against it. A second referendum or revoking Article 50 is not being contemplated by this Government and my position on both is unchanged, I would not support either.
An early election is entirely possible after the 31 October. As with everything else there are many possibilities as to how this might come about, the two most likely routes would be either that the Government requests one, requiring a 2/3rd majority in the House of Commons, or a vote of no confidence in the Government which is followed by no alternative Government being agreed upon within 14 days.
I hope that by this time tomorrow we will have more certainty on our future, and I look forward to working with this Government to deliver its agenda of delivering world beating public services as set out in the Queen’s Speech.