Following last week's vote in Parliament, I want to update you on my current thoughts regarding Brexit.
In June 2016 both the Gosport constituency and the country voted to leave the EU. I immediately pledged to respect the vote. As such, between now and then I have been faithful to that promise. I voted to invoke Article 50; to begin the process of leaving the EU. I voted for the EU Withdrawal Act 2018 which officially repealed the European Communities Act 1972 – thus ending our membership of the EU on the 29th March 2019.
I was also returned to Parliament on a manifesto promising to implement that decision. In fact, 93% of ballots cast in Gosport in 2017 were for Conservative, Labour and UKIP candidates who all stood on Brexit platforms.
Article 50, which 499 MPs supported, clearly states that we will leave the EU on the 29th March regardless of whether we agree a deal or not.
I would prefer that we left with a deal. I know that many local businesses would prefer the stability and certainty of a deal, especially given the low job density in our area. I am therefore pleased that the Government continues its cross-party talks to find an agreed way forward; although extremely disappointed that Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party have been unwilling to take part.
And if these talks fail, what then? Here's my view...
Revoking Article 50 and cancelling Brexit goes against what 64% of constituents voted for. I cannot support it.
Extending Article 50 and holding a second referendum is an unnecessary delay and only serves to prolong uncertainty.
To overturn the referendum would be profoundly un-democratic, undermining the voice of constituents who made an educated vote in 2016. I do not believe faith in our politics or elected representatives could recover from such a blow. Now is simply not the time to prevaricate.
I know from my years in business that the ability to walk away in any negotiation is crucial and to that end I believe No Deal is an effective tactic to getting a better deal. It is deeply frustrating to see MPs undermine the Prime Minister's negotiating hand by trying to get her to take No Deal off the table.
No Deal in itself would be suboptimal but, having seen first-hand some of the preparations, I am confident that we can make it work if necessary. I believe that we should be prepared to walk away if we cannot agree a way forward.
With the 29th March approaching, it is not the time to delay or question the mandate of the British people. The result must be respected, we must leave the European Union, and I fully believe that no matter how we leave we will continue to prosper outside of the EU. Now is the time for MPs to unite and fulfil the task that the people of Gosport and Britain have asked of us.