Tomorrow, Parliament will vote on the Prime Minister’s new Brexit deal. I will be voting for that deal.
The country has been stuck in limbo for far too long - there are other issues that we should be focused on, like our precious health service, creating high paid, high skilled jobs, investing in desperately needed infrastructure projects, continuing building our economy, strengthening our Union and tackling crime across our country.
It’s time we got Brexit sorted so we can re-focus our attention. That’s why Members of Parliament were elected - to support with the issues that matter to your daily lives, and that is exactly what I want to do. I was also elected on a manifesto to deliver on the 2016 referendum result, with a strong majority throughout Angus asking me to do so.
No more constitutional debate, no more referendums.
This new deal means we will leave the EU, have control over our laws, trade, borders and our money. It respects the will of the people.
The deal means we can finally get Brexit sorted and move on. Speaking with people across Angus week after week, as I have done since my election, I know that is what the majority would like to see. The most worrying aspect of the past few years in Scotland is that the constitution has dominated - and it is turning the public away from politics. That is bad for democracy and we must turn that tide.
Business agrees, with industry bodies including the National Farmers Union Scotland, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Food and Drink Federation and the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, CBI, Scottish Chambers of Commerce (and many more) have encouraged Members of Parliament to support the deal we have in front of us as a pathway forward - and to avoid a No Deal Brexit.
I have voted for a deal three times now, and I will vote for a deal again tomorrow.
This choice is clear - it is this deal or no deal as the EU have ruled out any further extension.
Those Liberal Democrat, Labour and SNP MPs who have spoken out about their grave concerns around No Deal, must demonstrate they truly wish to avoid it by voting for the deal.
This will enable a transition period to ensure businesses have time to prepare for our exit in a smooth and orderly manner. It will also, as the Scottish Chambers of Commerce outlined earlier this week, release a “wall of cash” into the Scottish economy as so many businesses have held back from investment decisions during this significant period of uncertainty.
The issue around Northern Ireland has dominated the debate and the backstop - the area of most controversy - has been removed. Against all odds, the Prime Minster has developed an alternative plan.
This 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 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.
Specifically around Northern Ireland,
- There will be a special arrangement, reflecting the unique circumstances there - which in no way can be compared to Scotland. We will guarantee – and reinforce – the peace process and avoid any issues at the border.
- Northern Ireland will have no hard border with the Republic or Great Britain, and will remain forever part of the UK customs territory. Northern Ireland will have access to the Single Market, but also be part of UK trade deals negotiated around the world.
- Crucially, this arrangement will be underpinned by the principle of democratic consent, through the ability to leave the special arrangement via a democratic vote in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Tomorrow, we have an opportunity to stop the endless Brexit back and forth. Three years of debate and almost five hundred hours within the House of Commons alone - we have to move on as a country.
It is our last chance to give business the certainty they want and to get back to improving public services and tackling issues affecting people’s everyday lives.
I hope every Scottish MP will join me tomorrow and vote for the Prime Minister’s deal.
As ever, I am happy to discuss any aspects with constituents - as I have done throughout this entire process - so please feel free to get in touch with me if you have any queries.