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.