During the June 2017 General Election I campaigned and was elected on a manifesto to support the UK-wide EU referendum result. It remains my absolute intention to ensure that this campaign commitment is honoured.
Below, you can find a list of my most recent news and updates on Brexit.
4th April 2019
I am pleased to have received an update from the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid on the EU Settlement Scheme. You can read the Home Secretary's letter, in full, here (PDF download).
3 April, 2019
Following the recent 'indicative votes' held in Parliament last week, I would like to take this opportunity to clarify how I voted in this process, as well as clarify my position on Brexit going forward.
I took the decision last week to vote in favour of the Prime Minister's withdrawal agreement for a third time, when it was voted on as distinct from the political declaration on the future relationship between the UK and the EU. I remain clear that this deal is the only option on the table that secures businesses certainty and stability for the future, full control of our borders, and delivers on the result of the 2016 referendum - exactly what was promised in the manifesto I was elected upon.
A fundamental confusion through the indicative votes process has been that several of the available options refer to different versions of the future relationship between the UK and the EU, as opposed to the withdrawal agreement itself. Regardless of whether Parliament is able to back a single option for the future relationship, this option will still require the withdrawal agreement to be passed in order to allow the UK to leave the EU and move onto the second phase of negotiations where any details of the future relationship will be finalised.
Regarding the recent indicative votes, on the options of a 'no deal' Brexit, and indeed of a 'managed no deal' Brexit, I chose to abstain. I have always been clear that it would be unwise from a negotiating standpoint, and would be legally questionable, to rule out a 'no deal' entirely. That said, I am cautious of the potential instability that such an option could bring, and would not wish to directly support the UK following this course of action.
I chose to vote against the 'Common Market 2.0', the EEA/EFTA proposal, the Customs Union proposal and Labour's alternative Brexit plan. These proposals simply fail to deliver on the result of the 2016 referendum, something I was elected on a manifesto to implement. Both the Common Market 2.0, Customs Union and Labour's alternative Brexit options would prevent the UK from having its own independent trade policy - our future trade arrangements would be decided by other countries without the UK's trading interests in mind. We would also continue to make large annual payments to the EU, and would be required to still accept a significant amount of EU rules and regulations - again, with no seat at the table when these rules are made.
The EEA/EFTA option would not rule out an independent UK trade policy to the same extent, however it would mean that the UK would not regain full control of its borders, which, was one of the main reasons people voted to leave the EU in 2016, and, as with the previous options, would require large annual payments and the acceptance of a huge number of regulations we would have no say in making.
The above proposals also would also fail to deliver on the expectations of our farmers and fishermen as they would likely commit us to remaining in both the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy, both of which would be an affront to what these people expect from the Brexit process. Indeed, the National Farmers Union, its regional counterparts, and the Scottish Fishermen's Federation have all backed the Prime Minister's withdrawal agreement over any of the proposed alternatives. The SFF has been clear in its support for this deal, stating that those who oppose the withdrawal agreement are 'no friend of Scottish fishermen or their communities', and it disappointing to see so many Scottish MP's choosing to ignore this.
Finally, I could not support the options of either revoking Article 50 or a 'confirmatory public vote'. I have stated, repeatedly, that I will fully oppose any efforts to prevent the implementation of Brexit. I believe it is wrong to suggest the 17.4 million leave voters were wrong, or did not know what they were voting for. Any attempts to stop Brexit ultimately taking place would set a dangerous precedent for our democracy, and I believe that both these options are nothing more than thinly veiled efforts to do just this.
Subsequent to last week's votes, I took the decision this week to vote against the four options presented to the House in the further round of indicative votes. Once again, Parliament failed to reach a majority for any single option. However, following both rounds of indicative votes, it is Prime Minister's withdrawal agreement that has commanded the greatest support of all options - it is now a choice between this deal, no deal, or no Brexit.
I have been frustrated throughout this process to see opposition parties, particularly the SNP and Labour, continue to oppose the withdrawal agreement in order to play party political games. The agreement on the table delivers exactly the certainty and stability that MP's across the house claim to want from the Brexit process, yet are nevertheless opposing it in an effort to score cheap political points, all the while gambling with our country's future. I have stated before and remain clear that now is not the time to play party politics. Now is the time for elected representatives from across the political spectrum to come together and deliver the Brexit that our United Kingdom voted for.
Once again, I thank you for taking the time to let me know your thoughts on this issue - I am aware that my position will not be able to please everyone, however I hope the above has been able to set out why I believe elected representatives of all stances now need to unite in support of the deal currently on the table.
With kind regards,
Kirstene Hair MP
Member of Parliament for Angus
15th March 2019
Following the votes that have taken place this week around the departure of the UK from the European Union, I wish to provide an update.
Before I begin, I would like to thank the thousands of constituents: that I have spoken with; or who have telephoned; as well as those who have written to my office to express their views and concerns throughout this process. Additionally, I am appreciative of the businesses, of all sizes within our community, that have taken the time to communicate with me around our departure from the EU and put forward their particular opinion.
As I have said previously, I campaigned and was elected on a manifesto that promised to honour the result of the 2016 referendum. I take this commitment very seriously. I believe that to go against this pledge would be a disservice to those I represent and, more widely, I feel that should the UK Government abandon this process and call for a subsequent referendum, it would set a dangerous precedent for the future of our democracy.
I have supported the Prime Minister’s deal on both occasions it was presented to Parliament. There were initially elements of the proposal that I wished for greater assurances on, however, having received these from the Prime Minister, I remain convinced that this is the best deal available and one that will guarantee the UK has a smooth transition from the EU.
Having spoken to many businesses and constituents in Angus, the overwhelming feedback I have received is that the deal provides the assurances and consistency that they need to plan for our future.
I fully acknowledge that a ‘no deal’ scenario would create difficulties for the UK and that is why I voted for the deal twice - and will vote for it again next week. However, the removal of this option entirely diminishes our negotiating strength with the European Union as Parliament has not yet accepted the deal we have on the table and therefore we are still within a negotiating period. I believed without ‘no deal’ on the table – we would be left in a weaker position diplomatically and therefore on Tuesday I voted against the Government’s amended motion ruling out a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. However, as you will have realised, this motion was defeated and Parliament has made it clear that it wanted ‘no-deal’ removed.
Yesterday, I voted against the holding of a second referendum. I do not feel that it is appropriate or necessary to hold another vote, with the UK electorate having already clearly expressed their views in 2016. A subsequent vote would certainly not solve the issue nor would it seek to bring the country together at a time when we need certainty and cohesion. I was pleased to see Parliament agree with this stance, and overwhelmingly vote against a second EU referendum.
I also voted against delaying Brexit and the departure process. An extension, despite what is claimed by some, in no way strengthens the UK’s position and does not moves us any closer to securing a deal. Rather, it places needless further delays and goes against the overriding desire of the UK public: that Brexit be concluded swiftly and we move forward. There is a deal on the table, a good deal, and parliamentarians - from all sides - must support it. There is no appetite from the public to negotiate a completely new deal, and a delay would not guarantee that further negotiations would lead to an outcome that would command the majority of the House. We must move on.
I believe there is a strong, and winnable, argument for a small extension once a deal is voted through in order to legislate. However, I could not accept an extension of a year or two, which would have led us into possibly taking part in the next European elections and potentially remaining in some shape or form in the European Union.
To this end, in the coming week, it is paramount that Members of all parties come together, abandon political posturing, and work to deliver on the promise of Brexit. I appreciate that there are many of my constituents who will agree with this stance and many who will disagree, however, I hope that you will agree it is vital we emerge from this process in a strengthened and competitive position.
As you will be aware, I speak with my constituents every week and my actions are taken with their views firmly in my mind - and that I listen to opinions from every corner of our community.
I will be providing further updates soon to ensure that you are kept informed; however, if you have concerns that you would like to discuss or a matter you wish to raise, I would ask that you contact me on email@example.com or 01307 495010 at your earliest convenience.
Kirstene Hair MP
30th January 2019
Update regarding Brexit amendments
Last night in Parliament, MP's voted on a number of amendments to the Prime Minister's proposed EU withdrawal agreement on Tuesday 29th January.
As you will be aware, I voted in favour of the Prime Minister's withdrawal agreement earlier this month. I believe that while this deal was not perfect, like many others in the House I had reservations around the backstop element, it was the pragmatic choice to support the deal and secure an orderly, timely exit from the EU on 29th March 2019.
I recognise however, that for many of my fellow members, the issue of the backstop was too significant an issue and they could not therefore support the deal. Consequently, it is clear that in order for this deal to pass through Parliament, changes must be made to this aspect of it, and this is why I voted in favour of Sir Graham Brady MP's amendment to call for the backstop to be replaced with 'alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border' in Ireland.
As this amendment passed was approved by 317 votes to 301, the Prime Minister can now return to Brussels with a clear mandate to reopen negotiations on the withdrawal agreement. Securing a deal is very much in the interests of both the UK and the EU, and I am hopeful that EU leaders will be co-operative with the Prime Minister as she attempts to reopen talks on the withdrawal agreement.
While I am not in favour of a 'no deal' Brexit, and I am wary of the potential disruption this option could lead to, I have always stated it would not be wise or even legally possible for the Prime Minister to completely take this option off the table. To do so at this stage would weaken our negotiating position, and as MP's voted overwhelmingly to trigger Article 50, a no deal Brexit is now the default legal option if there is no alternative agreement reached before 29th March.
Consequently, I voted against Dame Caroline Spelman MP's amendment which stated that the House rejects the possibility of leaving the EU without a deal. While this amendment was also passed with a majority of 8, I should point out it is not legally binding and merely serves as a statement of the will of the House.
Going forward, I will continue to support the Prime Minister as she works to secure a deal that can both provide a smooth departure from the EU and command a majority in Parliament, and I was pleased, as many of you were, to see the House come together to put forward our next steps and believe with cross-party efforts we can deliver what the country voted for.
20th January 2019
I have issued an updated response on the Prime Minister's proposed EU Withdrawal Agreement following the recent vote in Parliament. You can read it, in full, here (PDF download).
16 January 2019
Due to the large number of speakers in the EU withdrawal debate last night I was unable to deliver my full response to the Government's Brexit withdrawal agreement. For the benefit of my constituents I wish to make my full speech available to them.
On June 23rd, 2016, the British people directed us to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union, and it is our duty to put that into effect.
We must not ignore them or tell them to vote again until they give a different answer or deliver a non-Brexit that keeps us in the EU in all but name.
Many people who voted in the referendum had not done so previously but they cast that vote on the understanding that it would be respected.
To fail to deliver on their verdict would be an extraordinarily anti-democratic act, which would send a message to those voters that voting simply doesn’t work - that democracy simply isn’t for them. That has catastrophic consequences.
The Brexit we deliver must be genuine, but it should also work for our economy and consequently jobs – handling the risks of Brexit while embracing the very clear opportunities.
No parliamentarian is 100% comfortable with what is in front of them, including myself. That was an inevitable conclusion, specifically without detailed direction, from the outcome of a leave vote. The weeks which have passed since the agreement was published have been a torturous time for many of us trying to determine what we believe is best for our country and for our constituents.
The decision we take must be individual and justifiable to our constituents.
When I and my fellow Scottish Conservatives wrote to the Prime Minister in November, in strong support of the fishing industry as we have always been, her robust response confirmed that she recognises the importance of delivering for Scottish fishing. Quota shares must be agreed annually as an independent coastal state and not determined beforehand.
Nobody can say the fishing industry has not been pragmatic in these negotiations. Accepting the deal, even though it effectively keeps us locked into the CFP with no say over quotas for the year 2020, is compromise enough in my mind – and in their minds.
Therefore, whatever should happen today and over the coming months, let me be clear that I could not support any extension to the transition period beyond December 2020.
An extension of just one day would be an extension of one year until the next round of annual quota negotiations, and that would be wholly unacceptable. We need the freedom to embrace the sea of opportunity Brexit presents.
That is in comparison with the SNP, who want to take Scotland straight back into the EU and, accordingly, the CFP. They said they want a reformed CFP – it is simply not possible, and only seeks to deliver false hope. No-one, absolutely no-one, is fooled by their duplicity on this issue, least of all Scottish fishermen.
Now to Northern Irish protocol.
Firstly, we cannot forget about the current divergence in place between NI and GB due to devolution and The Good Friday agreement. My disappointment that the case for technological solutions has not progressed further is clear, and this must continue to be a priority – although both the EU and UK have stated it is a commitment through the political declaration, Parliament must hold their feet to the fire on this game changing prospect.
I have made it clear I would feel much more comfortable with a date which ensured the future economic partnership was concluded within an outlined period. Just as businesses do not have years to conclude complex deals, they have a window and must work night and day to adhere to that or walk away.
A deal is a negotiation and a large dose of pragmatism must prevail. Nothing was going to be perfect to us all – nor could it be.
But few would say that this deal is ideal, and I would be one of them. But the decision tonight is about what we, as parliamentarians, believe is right for the country at this pivotal point in our politics.
Having only been in this place 18 months, I can see so clearly why the public distance themselves from the elected. It is blindingly obvious. Because too often self-interest takes over our decision-making process. Labour willing a general election in a misguided attempt to grab power, and the SNP determined to force a ‘No-deal’ situation in the hope that would accelerate their case for independence.
We have seen language such as “lynching” another member of this place or phrases relating our negotiating status to attaching ourselves to “suicide belts” – politics has always been a highly pressured arena, but have we lost all our responsibility to act as role models in our communities?
No wonder some of the public are so disillusioned with politics.
I’ve spoken with a number of the largest businesses in Angus as well as knocking on doors and meeting with constituents – and an over-arching concern is the lack of certainty.
This decision, for me, is about my businesses, my constituents - those I represent.
The UK does not wish for a closer alignment to the EU than we have with this deal - as so many in this place believe is in their interests. We must respect the ‘will of the British people’ – a phrase some people are tired of hearing, but one that I refuse to stop using regardless of how uncomfortable it makes those who refuse to accept the result.
In this deal we leave the CFP, leave the CAP which is important to my rural constituency, give businesses vital certainty, rights for EU citizens as well as British citizens living in the EU, security co-operation and the opportunity to implement an immigration system that works for Britain. It is not at all surprising that this deal has support from the Scotch Whisky Association, Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, National Farmers Union and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.
In summary, Mr Speaker, this withdrawal agreement may not be perfect, and the majority of honourable members in this place who support it would not pretend that it is.
But does it deliver on the decision taken by the people of our United Kingdom in 2016? Yes.
Does it return to us full control of our borders as so many people wished? Yes.
Does it provide long-term stability for businesses, for our farmers and for our fisherman? Yes.
And of all the options on the table, is this agreement the one that is most in the national interest? Mr Speaker, I believe that it is, and that is why I will be supporting this deal tonight.
28th November 2018
I am pleased that the Prime Minister has listened to the Scottish Conservative MPs and written to assure us the UK will leave the Common Fisheries Policy and we will regain control of our fishing waters. You can read the Prime Minister's letter, in full, here (PDF download).
23 November 2018
I have released an update on my views regarding the draft EU Withdrawal Agreement which was published on Wednesday 14th November.
I am writing to discuss my views regarding the draft EU Withdrawal Agreement which was published on Wednesday 14th November.
In 2016 the British public clearly voted to leave the European Union. Subsequently I campaigned on a manifesto in June 2017 that supported this decision of the British people and it is my absolute intention to ensure that the result of the referendum is honoured. Although I appreciate there are many who support a second referendum, or a “People’s Vote” – we had the “People’s Vote” in June 2016 and I do not believe politicians, nor anyone else, should suggest that those 17.4 million who voted to leave the European Union were unaware of what they were voting for.
Since my election I have raised the areas of concern or uncertainty, related to our departure from the European Union, which constituents or businesses raised with me within Parliament. I have endeavoured to liaise with the relevant departments within the UK Government, meet with and write to Ministers, ask questions in the Chamber - with the interests of Angus always being my priority. I have, in recent months, campaigned tirelessly for a seasonal agricultural workers scheme to support the decline in seasonal workers here in Scotland. A successful campaign which will see the implementation of a pilot scheme introduced in Spring 2019 to alleviate the shortages and support the local soft fruit industry.
However, while I am committed to the UK leaving the EU, I also feel it is paramount we ensure that the departure agreement is in the best interests of Angus and the wider United Kingdom. To this end, I have been carefully scrutinising almost 600-pages of highly technical legal text, which forms the agreement, since its release. I do not find it useful for any colleague to have made a decision on whether they support the deal or not, after only minutes or hours of the document being released, nor will I be forced into making a decision immediately without all the information I believe is required to do so. This is one of the most important votes any Members of Parliament will make, outwith determining whether to go to war, and it is only right that I take the time I have to consider the text, ask for clarity on areas of ambiguity, and have the solid reassurances I require on some areas of the agreement.
As it stands, I am largely comfortable that the deal fulfills the government’s commitment to leave the European Union and I believe it will ensure a smooth transition from the European Union - just as the country asked. We must give credit to the Prime Minister for achieving what she has including safeguarding the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU as well as widespread backing from businesses for this deal which is on the table.
There are however aspects of the deal where I have concerns – with regards to our departure from the Common Fisheries Policy as well as the Northern Ireland backstop. The fishing industry is incredibly important to Scotland and as a Unionist, I could also never support anything which undermines the integrity of our Union.
Given the importance of this deal in shaping Britain’s future, I believe carefully scrutinising and challenging it is the responsible approach to take.
Kirstene Hair MP
10 October 2017
I have challenged SNP MEPs Alyn Smith and Ian Hudghton over their vote last week in the European Parliament to block progress in Britain’s Brexit talks.
The Conservatives want to move negotiations on from discussing withdrawal issues to talks about the substance of the future relationship we want with the EU. This will cover, for example, the rules our businesses trade under, the way the police work across borders to keep us safe, and how we get control of our borders.
Last week the European Parliament passed a non-binding motion to hold back talks on the future relationship. SNP MEPs voted in support of this motion, against the UK.
No matter which way people voted in the referendum, we all have a stake in making sure that we get the best possible deal as we navigate our way out of the EU. In Angus, there are a lot of issues to be addressed, not least control over our fishing waters and access to labour for industries such as fruit farming. The UK Government is working hard to make Brexit work, but our SNP MEPs are simply trying to block that progress.
Unfortunately, our SNP MEPs are more interested in frustrating Brexit than delivering the decision the country made and getting the right deal.