Following on from my post on Tuesday, I want to explain my position on the draft Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, which was published last night.
I can't in good conscience support this proposed Withdrawal Agreement. There are three basic reasons:
1) it seeks to tie us into a customs union (though under a different name, the joint customs territory) that we cannot leave without the EU's permission. That is giving away control over our economic future and trade plans.
2) This customs union prevents us from doing meaningful trade deals with other countries and therefore diminishes the potential benefits of leaving the EU. Whilst in theory we can do deals, the scope of those deals will be so limited as to make them almost pointless.
3) having different arrangements for Northern Ireland in this agreement is both breaking the PM's own red lines and provokes a constitutional argument about the UK. Scottish Nationalists will understandably ask 'if NI can be different, why not Scotland?', putting the Union at risk. I can't support a plan that could lead to the break up of the UK.
There also seem to be significant problems around the role of European Courts, and in ongoing alignment with a number of EU rules for another decade or more. That's not something I can support.
Today colleagues will press the PM to go back and tell Brussels that this plan is simply not acceptable and is not going to pass through a vote in Parliament. Both remain and leave voting MPs are unhappy with it and there are alternatives out there, including walking away.
I believe she needs to now be strong in the national interest, to tell Brussels that we will leave on our own terms if an agreement cannot be reached that gives us back control over our own future, and if she cannot do that then she should make way for somebody who can.