You will be aware from the events of last week that Parliament voted to support the Brady amendment, of which I was a sponsor, which means that the Prime Minister can now go back to Brussels to negotiate in the knowledge that it is the issue of the "Irish backstop" that needs to be addressed. This has always been my view, and indeed why I myself tabled an amendment in the first vote but that was ultimately not selected by the Speaker.
The backstop is a term bandied around a lot but it poses serious problems for the UK. The backstop means we are in an indefinite UK-wide customs union with the EU and Northern Ireland would observe some Single Market rules and regulations. The problem is we have no unilateral right to exit it, it threatens the integrity of the United Kingdom, keeps us bound to EU rules, regulations and tariffs, and we would have no independent trade policy.
The Prime Minister will return to Parliament by 13 February and it is anticipated there will be a further vote on February 14. I am still hopeful that the EU will recognise the benefits of a deal but the ball is now firmly back in their court.
Sir Hugo Swire, Member of Parliament for East Devon