Thursday 17 January 2019
I have always believed that the UK should make its own laws, be responsible for its own borders, and not hand over billions to an organisation which cannot properly account for it. For these reasons I voted for a referendum and campaigned strongly for a leave vote.
Contrary to what some people have been told there is absolutely no way of knowing how the Monmouth constituency voted because the votes were counted over the local authority area of Monmouthshire which has different boundaries. The Monmouth constituency contains 10,000 people who live in Torfaen where there was a 60% vote to leave the EU. I represent everyone and the views of all Monmouth constituency voters are of equal importance to me - no matter whether they live in Monmouthshire or Torfaen.
During the 2017 election campaign I again made clear my complete support for Brexit and was returned with over 50% of the vote - the highest percentage achieved by any candidate since 1959.
Having made this public commitment and been elected accordingly in my view it would be utterly wrong to backtrack in any way from supporting Britain’s exit from the EU and I will not do so under any circumstances.
From the moment the referendum was over however, I stated that we should recognise the concerns of all those who voted Remain and who have concerns about leaving.
When the Prime Minister produced her deal I thought it was a reasonable compromise. It took Britain out of the EU but kept us in the Customs Union for at least 2 years, possibly longer if no trade deal had by then been agreed. It offered stability to businesses who would see no change in their trading arrangements and reassurances to those who worried that leaving the EU would impact on our way of life. I made the argument for the deal on several occasions. At no time was I put under any pressure whatsoever from the Government or the Whips Office to support this deal. In fact two out of the four whips I have had since it was produced resigned because they were less enthusiastic about it than I was!
Unfortunately, this compromise arrangement appears to have very little support in or out of Parliament. Those who voted leave tell me that they want want to be completely out of the EU by the end of March and those who support the EU tell me that they will not support leaving under any circumstances.
I believe that the Government are going to seek further views on a way forward over the next few weeks. I wish the Ministers luck but I cannot see how there would be a consensus for any compromise deal following the historic rejection of the last one.
Two other solutions being suggested are holding a second referendum and delaying or withdrawing Article 50. Delaying Article 50 would simply be postponing further a decision which needs to be taken now. Withdrawing Article 50 and telling the public that they got it wrong and that the MPs know better would be similarly unacceptable.
I would never support holding a second referendum. I believe it would further deepen divisions and be viewed as an outrage by those who voted to leave in 2016, many of whom were voting for the first time, and were told that their decision would be final. We voted for something and we should not be expected to vote again just because some people do not like the result.
The truth seems to be that sadly there is no mood for compromise on this issue in or out of Parliament. Those who voted to leave are now even more committed to leaving, and those who voted to remain are uninterested in any kind of “soft” Brexit and simply want to stay in.
I have always believed that Britain should be out of the EU, and campaigned on this basis throughout the referendum campaign and during the general election. I would like to make absolutely clear that over the coming weeks I will vote in any way to ensure that by the end of March we are out of the EU. The Government should now finish making preparations for a Brexit on WTO terms ( the so-called "hard Brexit"). If the EU are worried about this and return with improvements to the current deal then I hope MPs on all sides will look at it with an open mind. However, the presumption must now be that we will leave without a deal, and given the lack of support for any form of compromise, then I will not hesitate to support this.