During the 2017 General election I made it clear that I would respect the result of the referendum and that I believed we had to secure the best possible deal. The exact words I used in my Election Address, in my commitments to you were “The majority of Halton people voted to leave the EU and we must now get on and secure the best deal.” This went to every household in the Halton constituency. I repeated my position many times during the election campaign in conversations with voters. Therefore, my position was clear – that we have to leave but with a deal.
Many business leaders, leading economist and academic assessments support the view that a no deal Brexit would be particularly damaging to the economy and there are also other concerns, such as the impact on our national security. Only last week the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) warned of the dangers of a no deal Brexit. A number of constituents who voted leave have told me they voted to leave without a deal, I respect their view, but the fact remains that what our future relationship with the EU will be was not on the ballot paper in June 2016.
The only deal Parliament has had to consider is that of Theresa May which was rejected by a record majority of MPs – over 90% of constituents who contacted me about this, remain or leave supporters, urged me to vote against the deal, which I did. The responsibility for the situation we are now in rests solely with Theresa May. From the start the Prime Minister has only been prepared to support a deal on her terms, with no attempt to work with MPs from all parties to build a consensus to find a way forward.
Some constituents believe there should be a second referendum and again I respect that view, however, I recently voted against a second referendum in Parliament as I have not been persuaded to vote for that. I believe a second referendum could be very divisive and to date I have not seen a significant shift of opinion in Halton against leaving the EU.
I am listening carefully to views on a solution, with foremost on my mind the need to reach a way forward that best honours the vote to leave but also takes into account the warnings from British Industry regarding the potential dangers for jobs and our economy, should an exit deal not be reached. With this in mind, I would favour leaving with a customs arrangement, which would better protect jobs and business.
I will continue to work hard to secure the best possible deal.