With Brexit so often in the news you'd think we would be closer to actually leaving! Nevertheless, here's a quick round up of what's happened this week:
On Monday I spoke to Sky News following the Prime Minister's Brexit statement. I have no fear of 'no deal' and it must remain the default option if we can't agree a plan with the EU - the referendum result must be delivered. The EU must accept that an agreement is not possible as long as it includes a 'Backstop' that potentially means we are tied in forever. In the event that the PM can secure that concession I would vote for the deal in order to ensure that Parliament can't block or overturn Brexit and to secure our leaving on March 29th. I will continue to press for a positive (and independent!) future relationship.
On Wednesday I appeared on BBC Politics Live I discussed the need to stop kicking the can down the road in terms of prolonging leaving and the need for certainty, particularly for businesses. I sense the public mood in Mansfield, and across the country, is hardening. I don't see how if we can't find a suitable deal before the 29th of March, that we would come up with one after. Lets keep moving forwards.
In order to be able to agree a Brexit deal in Parliament, we need a proposal that either does not include a 'backstop', or at least gives us a way to leave it without leaving the EU's permission. Being potentially permanently tied in as under the current proposal is not acceptable.
Nobody is going to install a hard border on the island of Ireland in the event of 'no deal' but by refusing to negotiate on the backstop the EU will make a deal impossible.
Removing the backstop would simply give us a choice in two years time (long after we've left) whether to keep trying to negotiate a trade deal or we move on to World Trade Organisation rules.
It would be no different to the choice we have right now! The irony is that by refusing to accept a potential 'no deal'/WTO situation instead of a backstop in 2021, they are pushing towards 'no deal'/WTO in 2019.
On a more positive note, a number of new post-Brexit trade deals have been put in place this week, including with Australia and New Zealand. International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, has said that he's confident of getting close to 40 agreements over the line before March 29th.
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