Sir Hugo Swire MP Statement on Brexit Votes - Thursday 14 March

In all statements, debates and deliberations, we should not forget that MPs of all the main political parties at the last General Election pledged to honour and respect the vote of the British people.

There is quite rightly widespread public concern at how the negotiations have been handled and at the Parliamentary jousting in recent months.

Rather than trying to thwart Brexit, MPs should be directing their efforts towards getting the best possible deal for Britain.

On Tuesday, I voted for the Prime Minister’s deal. This was a difficult decision.

Not least because I repeatedly made clear that I have deep reservations about her deal.

However, I feared that events are leading us towards a significant delay to our departure date or a watered-down Brexit. There is even the possibility of no Brexit at all.

If we extend our date of departure beyond March 29, then it should be for the shortest possible period.

On Wednesday, I voted to keep no deal on the table, rather than to take it off the table forever. This is an important difference. Legally, we either leave with a deal or without a deal. It is an often-used phrase but how can we get a good deal if we remove a bargaining chip and admit that we will only ever leave on the EU’s terms?

It is for these reasons that I do not believe in another referendum.

I do, however, recognise the strength of feeling of those calling for one. Personally, I voted Remain in the EU Referendum in 2016 because I believe in a close trading relationship with our European neighbours. However, another referendum would not only divide the country further for years to come but is not even clear what the question would be.

There is a tendency for us to be short sighted over Brexit. I agree we want it over with to focus on domestic priorities, building on our strong foundation of record employment and rising real wages. Mental health, housing and social care are priorities I want this Government to tackle head on.

Brexit was a springboard to deliver change. A better economy that serves consumers and takes on vested interests holding Britain back.

Next week, we have to seize the opportunity to actually get a deal through Parliament. The alternatives are too uncertain.

- Sir Hugo Swire MP