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