Boris Expelled Me, But I Still Vote for His Deal

This article originally appeared in the Herald Newspaper on 23rd October 2019.

As I write this column, Parliament is on the verge of debating a Bill that would see us leave the European Union with a deal.

Throughout the complex, and frequently enraging, twists and turns of the last three and a half years, I have taken a straightforward approach.

As you know, I voted to Remain, and I regret profoundly that we will leave the European Union.

Nevertheless I believe it is essential that we respect the result of the referendum, the largest vote in our history.

However, it is profoundly disingenuous to claim that respecting the will of the people means leaving the European Union without a deal.

People were promised an orderly exit, and indeed the Conservative manifesto stated that this would be the case.

So while respecting the referendum result, I have always voted against No Deal, and always supported measures to prevent a No Deal.

This led to me being expelled from the Conservative Party by Boris Johnson when I voted for the Benn Act, which states that we must extend the deadline for Brexit if we cannot get a deal.

Now that Boris Johnson has come back with a deal, I am prepared to support it.

I want Parliament to have a chance to vote for it, which is why I voted against the Letwin amendment on Saturday, which indeed did prevent Parliament having a vote on the deal.

The new deal is not ideal – far from it. Nevertheless, it is far better than leaving without a deal, and will at least allow us to move on to discuss our future trading arrangements. I am also conscious that many businesses, frustrated by indecision, do now really want an element of certainty, one way or another.

I also do accept Boris Johnson’s argument, that with Parliament continually saying what it is against, but not what it is for, matters do at last have to come to a head.

So I will vote for this deal, and I will resist any attempts to undermine or amend it, as this will simply add to uncertainty and delay.

We have the glimmer of chance to put chapter one of this saga behind us, and move on to the next stage.

But having seen how things have developed in the last three years, we still cannot be certain.

And even if we do succeed, Brexit will be far from done.