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 fulfils 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
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