On Monday morning Michael Tomlinson had an article published by the Guardian online, laying out his reasons why he could not support the Withdrawal agreement vote that was due on Tuesday. Shortly afterwards, the government decided to delay the vote.
This is the full text of Michael's article:
"It is your decision. Not politicians. Not Parliament. Just you. If we vote to leave, we will leave. They’ll not be another renegotiation or another referendum.”
Those were the wise words of David Cameron before the referendum. He was not the only one. MPs across the political spectrum confirmed that this would be the final decision. But what about the final decision come Tuesday’s vote in the House of Commons?
I am serial loyalist. I have never rebelled against the Government. Since first being elected in 2015, I have faithfully trooped through the Government lobbies and every fibre of my being instructs me, urges me along the path of loyalty. Yet my every instinct tells me that the Prime Minister’s deal is wrong.
The Prime Minister is absolutely right to say that people just want us to get on with it. But this proposal does not do that. It will lead to years more wrangling, both with the EU and amongst ourselves. As the Attorney General set out in his legal advice, there is a risk that we could be subject to protracted and repeating rounds of negotiations. Hardly the level of certainty that our businesses want. Even worse. We can’t get out of it of our own volition. Loss of sovereignty was the main reason that I voted Leave. To take back control. This proposal leads to the exact opposite. It cedes control to the EU.
Don’t just take it from a committed Brexiteer like me. Listen to some of my colleagues, who voted remain, such as Jo Johnson and Sam Gyimah. Both resigned from the Government. Sam Gyimah put it starkly, saying that we will have surrendered our voice, our vote and our veto, and we will be reliant upon the EU to strike a deal that lies in our national interest. He is right.
There is also the European Court. It is technically right to say that we will be leaving the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). But that is little comfort, when the CJEU will still retain such a significant and prominent role under the proposed Treaty. When the backstop kicks in, the European Court will have a say over rules such as those relating to movement of goods; VAT and excise; and agriculture and environment law. Further, in any dispute where interpretation of EU law is in question, the agreement shall be referred to the CJEU to interpret. As we have seen in the recent case seeking to revoke Article 50 and stop Brexit, the CJEU is an overtly political court. We need to be out of it. Full stop.
There are other fundamental objections to the deal, such as that it risks the integrity of the United Kingdom. And yet, the Prime Minister has said that it is this deal; or no deal; or no Brexit. No Brexit would be a betrayal impossible for us to countenance. It is not an option. The trust between people and politicians rightly would be destroyed. If Brexit is stopped, we will never be forgiven. Business fears a Corbyn Government – yes, far more than no deal. But if we stop Brexit, a Corbyn Government would be inevitable.
So what about no deal? The negativity and fear mongering around this prospect knows no bounds. If we are driven down this path by an intransigent EU, let’s cut out the scare tactics and change the name to a “Clean Global Brexit”. Let us be straight forward, if the EU doesn’t accept a sensible Free Trade Agreement such as a Canada style deal, there will be difficulties. But it is in our country’s national interest to look beyond the immediate short term.
We were warned of this at the time of the referendum. Thanks to the Treasury’s economic forecasts, we know that people voted to leave despite being told that they would lose their jobs; despite being told that they would be poorer; and despite being told that there would be an immediate and profound economic shock. Since when we have seen record levels of employment with more than 600,000 new jobs created.
In any case, there is an alternative to no deal and to no Brexit. A Canada style trade deal was offered to Great Britain back in March 2017. We now go back to the EU, and propose “Super Canada”, but for the whole of the United Kingdom. This is our final offer. In fact, we are going to walk away and prepare properly for a Clean Global Brexit. But our offer is still on the table.
And we must stop the doom mongering. After all, we have been preparing for no deal for over two years and more than £4 billion has been set aside for these preparations. If the EU won’t accept Super Canada for the whole UK, we will be ready. And in the fullness of time, when countries like Germany and France realise that they are losing out, they will encourage the EU back to the negotiating table, and sensible discussions will follow.
It will be a Clean Global Brexit, and one that leads to a bright future for us and a sensible trade deal with the EU. It was the people’s decision to leave. Not politicians. We will leave. And on Tuesday, it is not for Parliament to block it.