Statement from Stephen Metcalfe MP on the Draft EU Withdrawal Agreement & Future Relationship Political Declaration:
I have received a large amount of correspondence, offering a range of views from across the Brexit spectrum and I am grateful to everyone who has shared their view on this important issue.
I am mindful that I must vote on what I believe to be in the best interests of the people I represent and will do so based on my understanding of the reality of the situation and the options that are finally presented.
That said, I campaigned and voted for Brexit. I did so because I wanted the UK to get the benefits and opportunities that leaving the EU can bring. I believe that people were motivated by wanting control over our borders, money, laws, agriculture and fishing. Nothing has happened since June 2016 to change my mind and I would still do same again.
The Draft Withdrawal Agreement
I do have some very serious concerns about the Prime Minister’s draft Withdrawal Agreement particularly the open-ended nature of the proposal in its current form.
It rightly recognises the need for a transition period to allow time for our new trade arrangements with the EU to be implemented. I feel this is required to give businesses the necessary time to prepare and put in place the necessary changes required for future arrangements.
However, neither the possible extension of the transition period, nor the ‘back-stop’ (should our future arrangements with the EU not be concluded by the end of transition) are time limited.
Therefore, too much of the current proposal is predicated on trust with the EU. I believe a never-ending transition period, or the inability to leave unilaterally as a sovereign nation is unacceptable as it could leave us neither being completely in nor completely out of the EU.
I am concerned that the Withdrawal Agreement in its current form removes the incentive for the EU to get a deal done on our settled future trading relationship by December 2020. This risks turning a temporary arrangement meant for implementing a future trading relationship into a settled status. That would undermine the Brexit mandate.
To be clear, I have made my concerns known to the Government and I am having great difficulty in supporting the Withdrawal Agreement in its current form.
Proposed Future Framework
Alongside the withdrawal agreement sits the proposed Framework for the UK Future Relationship with the EU. The Prime Minister has asked for the two documents to be considered together and while I welcome today’s expansion of the proposed future framework, the document does not remove the potential open-ended backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement.
Therefore, I very much hope changes can be made to the Withdrawal Agreement itself and that the EU recognises the current proposals are inadequate.
The British people voted in a free and fair referendum to leave the EU. Turnout was larger than at any election since 1992 and no Prime Minister or party in British history has ever received as many votes as the vote to leave did. The Government must deliver the referendum result and it is my duty to see that it does.
I recognise that our current position is not ideal, but we must do all we can to bring back control of borders, laws, money, agriculture and fishing. With enough will, we can improve on the current draft arrangements to ensure we finally leave EU control completely.
As discussions are ongoing and the situation remains fluid I hope the EU Council this weekend will find a way to address my concerns.