Steve Double MP statement on Brexit
Today is the day we should have left the EU.
I am very disappointed we have not.
I understand my own disappointment will be shared by many constituents who voted to leave, both here in Cornwall and throughout the UK.
The reality is we have a Parliament where those of us who are committed to a clean break from the EU are in a minority – around 160 of us out of the 650 MPs.
Those MPs who wish to delay or prevent us from leaving the EU have been working, hand in hand with the Speaker, to overthrow long established Parliamentary procedures to dictate the business of the House.
The reality of the situation is that Brexit is now at risk.
We have already seen one delay until 22nd May, if we can pass a Withdrawal Agreement by today. If not then Parliament has until 11th April to request a further delay. It is clear a majority of MPs would support a lengthy delay (one or two years) rather than see us leave with no deal.
I know many constituents would prefer us to leave with no deal. I have consistently supported a no deal outcome if we could not agree terms for our departure.
But three times now Parliament has voted to reject no deal – it is clear there would be moves from within Parliament to stop us leaving the EU without a deal.
So I have come to the conclusion that the only options before us presently are either leaving with the Withdrawal Agreement that have been negotiated with the EU or a lengthy delay.
A lengthy delay would provide time for those who wish to prevent us from leaving to take steps to do so, by either holding a second referendum or revoking Article 50.
So the real choice is leaving with this deal, or no Brexit at all.
Faced with those choices it is my judgement (regrettably) that our best option, possibly our only opportunity, of leaving is to back the Withdrawal Agreement. As I have made clear the withdrawal agreement has its flaws, it is not the Brexit I wanted to see. There are risks in the backstop. But when compared to the risks of a long extension and the majority in Parliament that would vote to stop us leaving without a deal, or watering down Brexit even further, the Withdrawal Agreement is the least worst option, it is the lower risk option.
I have therefore decided to back the Withdrawal Agreement today to get us over the line.
Of course looking to the future, the Withdrawal Agreement is only the first step to leaving the EU and inevitably we want to look to life beyond it. Once we have left the EU we can then start to look at negotiating our future relationships for trading, both with the EU and across the world in order to secure the positive and global Brexit that the country voted for.