EU Referendum

Fact Check

The House of Commons Library, which provides impartial information to Members in support of their duties, maintains a Brexit hub on its website which publishes the latest information on the issue. You can view it here:

Update 24 October 2019

As you might imagine, as we approach the 31st October deadline to resolve Brexit, much of my time in Parliament over the last week has been dominated by this challenge. 

This week the EU Withdrawal Bill was published and set out how we will leave the EU.  This Bill turns the years of negotiated agreements between the UK and EU into legislation.  We also considered the Future Political Declaration that sets out the negotiating parameters for our future relationship with the EU.  Over the past three years, Parliamentarians and Parliamentary Committees have considered these negotiations. 

The Bill and the agreement that it seeks to implement represent a compromise, one that I believe delivers the commitments I made at the last General Election.  I want to ensure that, as we leave the EU, we have a close and special relationship with our neighbours and allies. While we are leaving the EU we are not leaving Europe. 

We need to take account of the shift we are seeing in attitudes among other Governments in the European Union. Those Governments are no longer hanging on, hoping somehow that the United Kingdom is going to change its mind.  They are impatient.  They are increasingly exasperated with all political parties and at the inability of the UK political system to take a decision on this matter. 

I believe EU Governments want Brexit brought to an orderly conclusion as soon as possible in a way that does as little harm as possible to the interests of the EU member nations.  That interest includes the future constructive and close relationship that they, like most people here, want to see. 

There are strategic challenges that face our country and every other European democracy.  Climate change, terrorism, serious and organised crime and the mass movement of people.  As European democracies, we are having to confront those challenges in the context of a shifting balance of world power, with a Russia that is aggressive and actively seeking to divide democratic European states, a China that is assertive and offering economic opportunity but championing a model for government and society at odds with that embedded in our own democratic and liberal values, and a United States whose unquestioning support for European security and a rules-based international order can no longer be taken for granted.  

While we need to get on with the task of trying to build a different but close and enduring partnership with our European neighbours and allies, we also need to work together to meet the challenges that confront us all as fellow democracies on a shared continent.  

Passing the necessary legislation will enable us to take one step closer towards starting on that task. I am pleased that the legislation cleared the first hurdle but frustrated that it is now stalled. 

It is not clear what will happen next, but there will be further delay to our departure from the EU. I will continue to work with MPs of all parties for a resolution. 

Update 21 October 2019

On Saturday October 19th, having read all the published documentation and discussed it with colleagues and independent experts, I joined my colleagues in Parliament for a further debate followed by a vote - an in principal vote - for the new, amended EU Withdrawal Agreement - what is described as the Meaningful Vote. Sadly, that opportunity did not arise. However, when the legislation required to give effect to the new, ‘amended deal’ is introduced and debated in the House of Commons, which will be at some point this week, I will be supporting it. This legislation will follow the same process as all legislation and receive the necessary scrutiny.

Update 17 October 2019

At the bottom of this page you will find the two amended documents, the Revised Political Declaration and the Revised Protocol to the Withdrawal Agreement, that the PM is discussing with the EU today. 

Update 02 October 2019

Today, the Government set out their proposals for the updated EU Withdrawal Agreement that they are negotiating with the EU. Documents containing details of these proposals are attached at the bottom of the page. 

Update 25 September 2019

I am unexpectedly back in Parliament this week. The Supreme Court made arguably one of the historic constitutional judgments of our modern history. 

I encourage you to read the full judgment, it’s not as long as you might think, easy to read and you can find a link on my website.  

The Government has said that while it disagrees with the decision it will respect it. I think that is the right thing to do. Checks and balances are an important part of our system of Parliamentary democracy and should be respected.  

Our system depends on informed and active citizens, our independent judiciary, the rule of law as well as Parliament to promote and defend our hard-won freedoms. 

To say that Brexit has proven to be a challenging test of our Parliamentary democracy is an understatement. I very much understand the frustration of my constituents. However, it is wrong to blame the judges for the current situation. 

In practical terms, it means that Parliament might be meeting every week for the foreseeable future. This is the Party conference season and I would normally be working in Cornwall for the best part of three whole weeks as Parliament normally does not sit during the Party conference season. This means that I have had to curtail my work with constituents locally, a hugely important part of my role as your local MP. 

The Supreme Court decision also means that we won’t now have a new session of Parliament as planned, one that sets out the Government’s proposed agenda, including measures to tackle climate change and environmental degradation. I know that many constituents want more urgent action taken on this. The PM will have to prorogue Parliament to enable that to happen. Given the Supreme Court’s decision, I expect that, if this happens, it will be for a short period of time, and Parliament will return around 14th October.  

I will make the most of this time in Parliament to continue my work as a backbench MP, building a consensus for Parliament to deliver the commitment in the 2017 Conservative General Election manifesto to leave the EU in an orderly way, with ‘a deal’. This was also a commitment of the Labour Party in their 2017 manifesto, something their leader seems to have forgotten.  

As you know the Government doesn’t have a majority in Parliament. One way to have broken the Brexit deadlock was to hold a General Election and elect a Government with a new Brexit mandate before the end of October, when we are due to leave the EU. Despite the Leader of the Opposition frequently requesting this, when his opportunity arose, he bottled it. 

In the absence of a General Election, I believe it is even more essential that all Conservative and Labour MPs need to work constructively with the Government as it negotiates with the EU, so that we can break the deadlock, honour our commitments and leave the EU in an orderly way with ‘a deal’. 

Update 24 September 2019

Our independent judiciary are an important institution and along with Parliament protect and promote our freedoms. The Government is right to recognise this and have said that they will implement today’s Supreme Court ruling. I will be joining MPs in Parliament tomorrow. I hope that my colleagues in all political parties with join with me, take the opportunity of Parliament meeting this week to redouble efforts to agree ‘a deal’ with the EU. This is what all Labour and Conservative MPs were elected to do at the most recent, 2017 General Election. It is in the national interest to resolve this as consensually and as soon as possible. 

Here is a link to the Supreme Court Judgement. Please do read it:

Update 13 September 2019

On Monday, the House of Commons debated providing greater clarity about the motivation and timing of the PM’s decision to prorogue Parliament.  As part of the debate, Members discussed the publication of government assessments regarding the impact of a ‘no deal’ Brexit and the preparations to cope with it. The Government has published some information and committed to publishing more. 

On Monday, the EU Withdrawal Agreement (No 6) became law and the Government agreed to uphold the law of the land. 

The House of Commons had another vote about an early General Election, one that would have been held before the end of October. While I believe it is the responsibility of MPs from across Parliament to work together to find a solution to the Brexit gridlock, not enough MPs agree. Given this tragic impasse in Parliament, a General Election is one way to resolve the situation. It gives the public the opportunity of choosing how the country proceeds before we leave the EU so I voted for it.

Despite having repeatedly called for a General Election, Jeremy Corbyn and all the leaders of Opposition Parties did not vote for one. 

Further update 09 September 2019

Some constituents have contacted me having read some media reports that “EU sources” were describing the UK negotiating attempts as little short of “disastrous” with no real alternatives being put forward. I find this at odds with what I know. A well-researched programme was published weeks ago by the ProsperityUK Alternative Arrangements Commission chaired by Greg Hands MP and Nicky Morgan MP which offered, in considerable detail, protocols for a solution to the border problem in Ireland. These included a multi-tier trusted trader scheme; harnessing existing technologies (not futuristic high tech solutions), and Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary checks being carried out away from the border. This report is in the public domain.

While I understand that the Government cannot undertake negotiations in public, some more transparency and greater clarity would be reassuring. I have asked that the PM provide that following his meeting in Dublin today.

Update 09 September 2019

Today, I accepted the invitation of Caroline Flint, Rory Stewart, Stephen Kinnock, and Norman Lamb to join MPs for a Deal.

For too long debate in Westminster has been paralysed by a lack of moderation and compromise. Even at this eleventh hour it's not too late to agree a deal to ensure an orderly exit from the European Union.

That is why, on Wednesday, we supported Stephen's amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill which made any delay to the UK’s departure – if a delay is needed at all – conditional upon an effort to debate and pass a deal based on the outcome of inter-party talks held earlier this year.

We are not suggesting that the new deal should be a carbon copy of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB), rather that it provides a solid and realistic basis on which to build to reach a compromise that can pass in the Commons and avert a no deal.

Further delay without a purpose will simply add to voter anger. If a General Election is not agreed today, the Prime Minister must use the coming month to secure a deal that he can put to Parliament as soon as we re-convene on 14 October.

Update 05 September 2019

Yesterday, I supported two amendments to the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill (no 6). The aim of the amendments was to enable Parliament to consider the last attempt by the previous Government to secure changes to the EU Withdrawal Agreement with the Opposition, that would command a majority of support in the House of Commons. Sadly, Parliament at the time was not given the opportunity of reading this amended Bill, debating it or voting for it. I am pleased that one of the amendments was passed. 

This means that Parliament will have at least one EU Withdrawal Agreement to consider, in addition to the one that the PM will bring back to the House of Commons in mid October, after he and his team has completed his negotiations with the EU. While I don’t share the fears of those that think the PM has no intention of negotiating and bringing back a deal to the House of Commons, I have ensured we have at least one Withdrawal Agreement to consider.

I remain focussed and determined to deliver my commitment to my constituents to leave the EU in an orderly way, into a new, close relationship with our neighbours, allies and friends. That is to leave the EU with ‘a deal’. 

Update 03 September 2019

Today in Parliament the Labour Party and other Opposition political parties will try to take control of parliamentary processes away from Government and extend the deadline for leaving the EU. Some of my colleagues will be joining them too.

I will not be supporting this attempt today for the following reasons.

The Prime Minister and his team are in the midst of negotiations with the EU on an ‘amended deal’ so that we can leave the EU at the end of the deadline of 31st October. Parliament voted for this extension agreed with the EU. I am encouraged by comments made by European leaders and by their preparedness to make some concessions to the so- called ‘Irish Backstop’ that is the sticking point preventing some MPs from supporting the EU Withdrawal Agreement. Having spoken with the PM I believe that he is sincere in his desire to leave the EU with ‘a deal’ and is working with the EU to achieve this.

I want to enable the PM to have the best chance of achieving an ‘amended deal’, even if it is a slim chance, as the best way to prevent a ‘no deal’ Brexit is for the EU and the UK to agree ‘a deal’ that MPs will support. That will enable an orderly exit into a new, close relationship with our neighbours, allies and friends in Europe.

Parliament will be sitting on 14th October onwards to consider, debate and scrutinise any ‘amended deal’. We have the opportunity to avoid a ‘no deal’ Brexit by voting for the ‘amended deal’.

If Parliament is unable to come to an agreement in October, the same options that are available today will be available then to prevent a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Update 16 August 2019

I do not support the proposal put forward by Jeremy Corbyn to lead a government of national unity to stop Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn has not been able to ensure Labour MPs deliver their manifesto commitment to leave the EU with a "deal". There is no problem facing our country to which Jeremy Corbyn is the answer. I support the PM in his work with the EU to secure a "deal" so that we can deliver our manifesto commitment by the end of October. 

Update 14 August 2019

An article published in the Sun today refers to a leaked private letter sent to the Prime Minister that I co-signed. It was a private letter welcoming his announcements on the domestic agenda; more money for the NHS, our Police and schools. All things I have been campaigning for over a long period of time.

I also wanted the Prime Minister to be assured of my support for his stated aim to leave the EU in an orderly way with ‘a deal’. The Prime Minister repeatedly made this commitment in meetings that I attended during his leadership campaign. 

I understand that the Prime Minister is in the process of negotiating with the EU on changes to the Withdrawal Agreement and that he needs to put the possibility of leaving with ‘no deal’ back on the table during these negotiations. I have consistently voted to leave the EU, in an orderly way, into a new, close relationship with our neighbours and allies, as the Conservative Party Manifesto that I was elected to deliver describes. I will continue to do so. I am very disappointed that the letter has been leaked to the Sun. 

Update 24 July 2019

Last week, I voted for an amendment to the Northern Ireland Bill to try and prevent Parliament from being prorogued (shut down) in the Autumn. As you know, the current deadline for leaving the EU is October 31st. I have repeatedly voted to honour the manifesto commitment I was elected to deliver, to leave the EU in an orderly way with an agreement for a close and special future relationship. The PM has said that is his aim and I will support the PM to deliver this. 

During the EU Referendum campaign and subsequently, many people have asserted that they want to leave the EU so that our sovereign Parliament can take back control of the decisions that affect us all. For Parliament to take decisions it has to be meeting. That is just what I voted for last week. To spin my action as an attempt to stop Brexit, as some have done, is a lie. 

Update 30 May 2019

Much has happened over the last week but what have we learned? While a minority of people voted in the EU elections, those that did so indicated that the country is as divided now as it was at the time of EU Referendum. The Conservative and the Labour Party MPs who have been trying to deliver their manifesto commitments have failed to secure the support of people who want us to leave the EU without an orderly transition to a new and close relationship, preferring a “no deal” Brexit, as well as those who want to “stop Brexit” with a second referendum. 

I am disappointed that Jeremy Corbyn could not persuade enough of his team, most notably future Labour Party leadership contenders, Emily Thornberry and Kier Starmer, to support him and the way forward, that I am told by people close to the negotiations, he wanted to agree with the Prime Minister. I know Labour MPs that want to honour their manifesto commitments to deliver Brexit. If the agreement had been reached and subsequently supported by Parliament, we would be on track now to leave the EU with a good deal, ending the current paralysing uncertainty. I appreciate that not everyone agrees with me, however I continue to believe that getting Brexit right is of such national importance that it should be above party politics.  

With not enough Parliamentary support for her approach to Brexit the PM had no choice but to announce her impending resignation. She is a great public servant and could not have tried harder to deliver a good Brexit. That remains an extraordinary challenge for her successor. 

The PM will remain in place while the Conservative Party choose a new leader. The leadership contenders will need to demonstrate that they have a Brexit plan that will command enough support in Parliament. Unity of purpose is essential so that we can begin the process of healing the divisions that Brexit has illuminated.  

This selection process will take time and could be months. We should use this time well to consider some new approaches to finding a solution to Brexit, by more directly involving people in our usual political and Parliamentary processes. 

Next week, I am meeting Professor David Farrell, one of the “stars” of deliberative democracy and the Co-Leader of the Irish Citizens’ Assembly, in which citizens found a way forward on the “unsolvable” question of abortion and marriage equality. Professor David Farrell is described as “the man who transformed Irish politics”. 

I am keen to learn from the experience of Ireland and develop an approach for the U.K. There are a range of models of deliberative democracy, including citizens juries. They provide the opportunity for a truly representative group of citizens, enabled by experts, to consider complex issues, feeding back their findings to politicians and the public grappling with the same issues. They don’t replicate our democratic institutions and processes but add an extra dimension that Ireland and other countries have found useful in resolving complex issues. 

First published in the West Briton 30 05 19

Update 23 May 2019

I understand the frustration people feel that Parliament has not yet delivered Brexit. I understand that people want to leave the EU for a range of reasons, not all to do with the economy. However, I am focussed on the economy and the wellbeing of my constituents. Without a strong economy local people won’t prosper and we won’t be able to increase funding for our vital local public services. 

The delays are having a corrosive effect on British industry as a whole. The longer the delay, the more likely that investments are routed out of Britain to countries with a more stable political and industrial climate. 

While Parliamentary squabbles continue, Nigel Farage is touring the country advocating a no-deal Brexit. Just when we thought no deal was out of the question, the collapse of the Brexit negotiations and the willful disregard by some in Parliament of the increasingly desperate warnings from industry and the world of work, has brought the spectre of no deal back. 

No deal would not be the “clean break” Mr Farage promises. 

Pascal Lamy, former Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), has said he thought after a period of negotiations that the UK could become an independent member of the WTO outside of the EU. But he described the WTO regime as league three in world trade. Why would we choose to relegate ourselves from league one to three? 

The blithe assurances of hard Brexiteers that the UK could fare perfectly well trading on WTO terms flies in the face of warnings from a huge range of businesses, small and large, that it would simply make their products uncompetitive and their business models unsustainable. 

The National Farmers Union says WTO terms would add 67 and 85 per cent extra tax to exports of lamb and beef respectively. 

The British ceramics industry, already struggling with the dumping of tableware from China, would face extra tax of 28 per cent on its products. 

The car industry, hit by the triple whammy of falling sales in China, the transition from diesel and Brexit, could not absorb the extra 10 per cent tax on its exports. 

Manufacturing employs millions of people and its renaissance has given thousands of young people a real start in life in well-paid, skilled jobs. 

For businesses this is even worse than the first time they prepared for the threat of a disorderly no-deal Brexit on March 29 because billions had to be spent making contingency plans, stockpiling supplies, shutting factories and laying off staff. They just cannot do this all over again. 

As you would expect, I listen to local employers and businesses and many tell me that they are worried by the collapse of the cross-party talks as it makes no deal more likely once again. As we edge closer to a damaging no-deal Brexit, I will once again work tirelessly cross-party in parliament to ensure Britain leaves the European Union in an orderly way with a deal. 

Update 14 April 2019

The extension of our departure from the EU does not remove the urgent need to resolve the issue of how we leave. In 2017, all Conservative and Labour MPs were elected with manifesto commitments to leave the EU, in an orderly way into a new, close relationship. Not a WTO Brexit. Not to duck our collective responsibility with a second referendum.

How we leave lays the foundations for our future relationships with European countries for many years to come. Its more than just getting enough MPs to vote for a Withdrawal Agreement and a process that will enable us to disentangle ourselves from years of being in the EU. We need to develop mutually respectful, beneficial and enduring relationships with our neighbours and allies as our future national security and prosperity depend on it.

Now is the time for those MPs who are “trash talking” potential Brexit options and the PM to stop. Now is the time to put the national interest ahead of personal Brexit preferences. Now is the time to back not sack the PM in trying to break the impasse in the House of Commons and leave the EU in the best possible way and before the EU Parliament elections in May.

The Future Political Declaration is the right starting point for discussions between the Government and MPs from across the whole political spectrum. It sets out a negotiating position for our future relationship that offers the potential of bespoke arrangements, a tailor made British Brexit. Other countries such as Norway and Switzerland have bespoke arrangements with the EU that work for them.

Essentially, for jobs and important parts of the economy, it contains potential arrangements so we can continue to trade freely with EU countries, while simultaneously, over time, develop new opportunities to make our own trade agreements. To stay competitive, significant industries need some sort of free trade agreement with the EU which in turn will require some sort of customs arrangements and the agreement of some mutually beneficial terms of trade.

Without a negotiated agreement, including customs arrangements enabling us to trade freely with the EU, we are left outside the EU, with a WTO Brexit.

Pascal Lamy, former Director-General of the WTO, has said he thought that there would be no difficulty in the UK becoming an independent member of the WTO outside of the EU. There may be technical negotiations, around tariff rate quotas and governance, but Mr Lamy saw no legal impediment. The UK would rely upon its commitments regarding tariffs on goods and the commitments made on services in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

WTO terms would mean significant extra costs to business that would jeopardise parts of our economy and jobs. Pascal Lamy described the WTO regime as league three in world trade.

We are a creative, innovative, enterprising, first league trading nation and I don’t want to see us relegated to league three of world trade, with a WTO Brexit. After Easter, we should all support the conclusions of the PMs work to break the House of Commons impasse and deliver a British Brexit.

First published in the Times 15/04/19:

Update 04 April 2019

The Prime Minister has agreed a programme of work with the Leader of the Opposition, to ensure we deliver Brexit. 

I understand that yesterday’s talks were constructive, with both sides showing flexibility and a commitment to bring the current Brexit uncertainty to a close.  

They agreed a forward programme of work to ensure we deliver Brexit in a way that protects jobs and security.

The negotiating teams will reconvene today for a full day of intensive discussions, recognising the need for urgency.

Update 02 April 2019

Last night, The House of Commons’ decision not to support any alternative to the PM’s negotiated EU Withdrawal Agreement and Future Political Declaration means that the default legal position is that the UK will leave the EU on 12th April. I voted for both the available alternatives as part of a process to find the common ground in Parliament, so most of us can honour the commitments made to our constituents, to leave the EU with ‘a deal’. I continue to believe that the PM’s ‘deal’ is the best available. To secure any further extension, we will have to put forward a credible proposition to the EU as to what we will do with that extra time.

Parliament has continuously rejected leaving without a deal, just as it has rejected not leaving at all. Therefore, I continue believe that the only option is to find a way through which allows the UK to leave with a ‘deal’. Cabinet will meet this morning to consider the results of yesterday’s votes and how the Government should proceed.

Update 31 March 2019

I am very disappointed that the House of Commons did not come together last week to deliver the commitments that the majority of MPs made to their constituents, to leave the EU in an orderly way to a new, close and deep relationship with our neighbours in Europe.

The House of Commons has rejected leaving the EU without a negotiated ‘deal’. It has also rejected stopping Brexit. On Wednesday, it rejected all the variations of a different sort of Brexit on the table. 

On Friday, it rejected approving the Withdrawal Agreement alone and continuing a cross party process on agreeing the future relationship with the EU.

The legal default now is that the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on 12 April. This is not enough time to agree, legislate for and ratify a ‘deal’, and yet the House has been clear it will not permit leaving without a deal. 

So we will have to agree an alternative way forward. On Monday, the House of Commons will continue the process to try and find a stable majority for an approach to agreeing a new relationship with the EU.

It is so disappointing, at such a key moment in our nation’s history, to see the Labour Party play party politics, continuing to vote against what they committed to at the last General Election. Labour Ministers cannot say why they continue to oppose the Withdrawal Agreement. There are a few Labour MPs who voted with the Government, to deliver on the Labour manifesto commitment, to leave the EU with a negotiated deal. It is clear that Jeremy Corbyn wants to create chaos and division, bring down the Government and win a General Election to usher in his hard left wing policies. The policies that he advocates have a proven track record of impoverishing people. 

I will continue to work with colleagues from across the House of Commons to find a solution to the current impasse that enables us to deliver Brexit, in an orderly way to a new, special relationship with the EU, thus providing the certainty that local people, employers and public services need. 

Update 27 March 2019

Today, I joined an innovative process in Parliament with the aim of exploring options to leave the EU with ‘a deal’ if the Prime Minister’s EU Withdrawal Agreement and Future Political Declaration does not secure enough support later this week. I will continue to vote for the PM’s ‘deal’ as I think it is better than the alternatives we debated today. 

However, it is important that we find the common ground in Parliament for ‘a deal’, so this evening I voted for a number of options that are potentially deliverable. I also voted against leaving the EU on 12th April without a ‘deal’. I did not vote for a ‘confirmatory public vote’ or the ‘revocation of article 50’ as I believe there is still the possibility of the PM’s ‘deal’ being agreed in Parliament this week, enabling us to leave the EU on 22nd May in an orderly way, transitioning to a new, close and special relationship with the EU.

If the PM’s ‘deal’ is voted down later this week, on Monday, we will have another day debating the alternative potential ‘deals’, with a series of votes that I expect will include the ‘revocation of article 50’, a ‘confirmatory public vote’ on an alternative ‘deal’ and an option to leave the EU without a ‘deal’.

This evening I listened to the Prime Minister say she will be standing down after she has delivered Brexit. She didn’t come into politics to leave the EU but she has had the unenviable job of delivering Brexit. She has shown remarkable resilience and determination and despite Brexit has brought real focus to tackling the burning injustices in our society that she so well articulated on her first day as Prime Minister.

Update 24 March 2019

I have been contacted by a number of constituents asking me to do a wide range of Brexit related things this week, contradictory things, from stopping Brexit to leaving without a deal on Friday.

As I write there is no certainty about the week ahead in Parliament. Here is a brief summary of the main options:

Parliament could stop Brexit altogether – Jeremy Corbyn has refused to rule out revoking Article 50, while this is the firm policy of the SNP and Liberal Democrats. Others want to try to stop Brexit by holding a second referendum.

Britain could leave the European Union without a deal on Friday - however, given the large majority in the House of Commons against ‘no deal’, the likelihood is it would be blocked by Parliament.

The third outcome is a ‘softer’ Brexit, following a series of ‘indicative votes’ setting out alternative versions of ‘a deal’ – this could mean staying in the Customs Union and keeping free movement of people. It would require a further extension to Article 50 which would also mean holding European Parliament elections this summer. And it would still require passing the Withdrawal Agreement (EU) including the backstop.

By voting for the Withdrawal Agreement (EU) and a Future Political Declaration the U.K. can leave on 22 May.  We can end three years of divisive debate and uncertainty and allow the country to move on towards a new, positive future, outside the EU but with a close and special relationship with our fellow Europeans. 

Update 23 March 2019

As you can imagine I have received hundreds of emails from constituents over the past week asking me to act in a variety of ways, in fact in completely contradictory ways. I appreciate that people have strongly held and passionate views on Brexit. Very different views. I appreciate that many people are angry, frustrated, worried and just want ‘it to be over’.

I have been consistent in my aim to deliver the mandate I have been given to deliver Brexit in an orderly way that will enable a new, close and special relationship with the EU. We are not leaving Europe and we remain Europeans. I very much welcome and appreciate the contribution of Europeans here and indeed people from around the world. I have lived and worked in both the USA and Italy and I appreciate that these are worrying times for local families.

This week, as previous weeks, I will be working in Parliament, to find the common ground so we can make progress. 

Update 13 March 2019

At the last general election I was given a mandate by my constituents to deliver Brexit, with an orderly transition to a new, close and special relationship with the EU. To deliver Brexit with ‘a deal’ not a ‘no deal’ Brexit. I believe the Withdrawal Agreement and the Future Political Declaration deliver on that manifesto pledge and will continue to support it.

Today, I resigned from the Government so that I could vote for a motion that honours my commitment to my constituents, to leave the EU with ‘a deal’.

Like many of my constituents, I have been inspired by the personal courage and resilience of the Prime Minister and will continue to support her Herculean effort to secure enough support from across the House to leave the EU with a deal.

Update 26 February 2019

Today the Prime Minister updated Parliament on the progress that she is making to enable the U.K. to leave the EU with a Withdrawal Agreement and Future Political Declaration by the end of March. MPs will be voting on a motion to approve these documents on 12th March and I very much hope it is passed.

If the government does not succeed in securing enough votes for this ‘deal’, another motion will be tabled on 13th March asking the House of Commons if it supports leaving the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement and a framework for a future relationship on 29th March. So the U.K. will only leave the EU without a deal on 29th March if there is explicit consent in the House for this outcome.

If the House, having rejected leaving with a deal negotiated with the EU, then rejects leaving on 29th March without a withdrawal agreement and future framework, the Government will, on 14th March, bring forward a motion on whether Parliament wants to seek a short, limited extension to Article 50 – and, if the House votes for the extension, seek to agree that extension approved by the House with the EU, and bring forward the necessary legislation to change the exit date commensurate with that extension.

Like the PM, I do not want to see Article 50 extended and am urging colleagues to vote for the PM’s deal on 12th March. At the last General Election, I was elected to deliver Brexit, with an orderly transition to a new, close and special relationship with the EU and I will continue to do everything I can to deliver this. To honour my commitment, I will vote against a ‘no deal’ Brexit and if necessary a delay in when we leave the EU.

Update 11 February 2019

Today, the Brexit Secretary will meet with Michel Barnier to discuss how to secure legally binding changes to the Withdrawal Agreement, addressing concerns about the backstop while guaranteeing no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

In Downing Street, the Prime Minister will continue talks with EU 27 leaders following her engagement in Brussels, Northern Ireland and Ireland this week.  

The working groups of MPs from different political parties will continue to develop a package of measures that can command support in Parliament. 

I continue to work with my MP colleagues in Westminster to find the common ground that will enable us to leave the EU with a deal. A deal that will enable us to transition in an orderly way to a new, close and special relationship with the EU.

Update 30 January 2019

Last night a majority of MPs, from across the Conservative, Labour, DUP and Liberal Democrat parties voted for an amended EU Withdrawal Bill. A couple of weeks ago, a majority of MPs voted against the original version of this bill. 

Over the last two weeks a huge amount of work has been done to find the common ground in Parliament. The EU and the PM quite rightly said to Parliament, “we know what you don’t agree upon, so tell us what you do”. The amendment to the EU Withdrawal Agreement is about finding a different way of guaranteeing that we honour the Belfast and Good Friday agreements - the so called “backstop”. Those agreements are about honouring our commitments in securing peace in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

So what happens next? The PM will spend the next two weeks negotiating with the EU with the aim of bringing back to Parliament a final version of the EU Withdrawal Agreement.

Update 21 January 2019

Today, the Prime Minister made a statement to the House of Commons setting out the government’s next steps and updating colleagues on the discussions with MPs from across the House.

Overwhelmingly, local people want us to get on with delivering Brexit, and also address the other important issues they care about.

Now MPs have made clear what they don’t want, we must all work constructively together to set out what Parliament does want.

The Prime Minister will continue to meet with MPs from all parties, with business leaders and others to come together to find a way forward – which delivers on the referendum and commands parliamentary support.

This will not be an easy task, but MPs know they have a duty to act in the national interest, reach a consensus and get this done.

I am disappointed that Jeremy Corbyn has, so far, chosen not to take part – but hope he changes his mind, because I know from my contact with many local people, they want us to work together, find the common ground and get a good deal. 

Update 16 January 2019

Last night Parliament voted against the Prime Minister’s EU Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration, that set out our future relationship with the EU. Today, the PM made a short statement in the House on the next steps the Government will take to try and build a consensus in Parliament for a negotiated exit of the EU. 

It is vitally important that we deliver our manifesto commitment from the recent General Election that clearly stated that we would leave the EU and secure a “new, deep and special relationship”. The manifesto did not say we would exit Brexit or leave without a deal.

The PM is working at pace with colleagues, including from opposition political parties to try and build a consensus for a positive way forward, that delivers that manifesto commitment. Labour MPs were also elected to deliver Brexit with a negotiated deal so there is more that unites than divides us.

I understand that the continued uncertainty is very worrying for many local people. It’s important to remember that all EU citizens in the U.K. have their right to be here protected, even in the event of a no deal Brexit. EU citizens working and living here make an important contribution to our community.

Update 14 January 2019

Tomorrow I will be voting for the EU withdrawal agreement and the political declaration, together they are often referred to as the ‘deal’. I will not support a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Update 10 January 2019

The Parliament I returned to on Monday is almost as divided as it was before Christmas. It is still divided into several factions; those who support Mrs May’s EU deal and those who oppose it, those who want a general election and those who want a second referendum. No one has come up with a better deal – including “no deal” – that commands more support than that of the Prime Minister. These same divisions exist across our nation, in our communities and in our homes. 

I have received around one thousand letters and emails from constituents passionately expressing their views one way or another, with each appealing to me to do the ‘right thing’ by representing their position in Parliament. It is my job to listen to the arguments and then carefully draw my own conclusions.  

There is no doubt that the vast majority of people are very supportive of the Prime Minister, and rightly so in my view. I agree that her deal is not perfect, but it does offer a compromise which I can support and I would urge others to do so too. As I have said before, this deal will give us free, no tariff, unlimited quota trade with the EU, minimal or zero frictions at the borders, complete control over immigration and would avoid a “hard border” between North Ireland and Ireland. There will be no payments to the EU and we will be out of the Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policies and there will be no customs union, so we will be free to strike trade agreements with nations outside the European Union. These key objectives, which are often referred to as the Prime Minister’s ‘red lines’, actually represent the promises made to British voters in the referendum campaign and at the most recent General Election. 

The much debated “backstop” in the EU Withdrawal Agreement, if used at all, would allow us continued, contribution free access to the EU whilst having total control over migration. This is why it is designed to be, and will prove to be temporary; for the first time ever, and contrary to the EU’s oft-repeated position of not splitting the ‘four freedoms’, they have done exactly that. Any suggestion that such an arrangement would, in effect, become permanent would cause an existential crisis within the EU. Their incentive not to use it, or to leave it quickly, would be at least as great as ours. 

If we do not support this deal, then anything could happen. This would have unknown and potentially untold consequences. The vast majority of local employers who have contacted me want certainty and do not want a “no deal” Brexit. 

There might also be a vote of no confidence in the present Government, which could result in a General Election, which Mr. Corbyn might win. For most, I do not need to explain the consequences of this for our economy, on investment and on jobs. 

I think it’s time to come together and support the deal. 

Update 20 November 2018

Last week was dominated by consideration of the proposed agreements with the European Union that set out how we will leave the EU in an orderly way and develop a new and close relationship – a relationship that is based on our shared values, mutual security and economic prosperity.

The negotiations are still not complete and the final proposed agreements will be presented to Parliament later this month for further and thorough debate. We will then vote on the agreements.

I have read and considered all the documentation and listened to the debate in the Commons. I believe that what the Prime Minister has agreed with the EU has delivered on what the referendum mandated: we will be leaving the EU in March next year, the right to free movement will end, we will take back control of our laws and we will be leaving the single market. We will become an independent coastal nation.

I know that fervent Brexiteers, and those who do not want to leave the EU, will say that some of these things aren’t delivered instantly and that there remains some uncertainty on others. Some will protest that we will have to follow EU rules on goods.  And they will be right.

But, crucially, the deal also delivers continued near friction free access to the EU markets which guarantees so many jobs and livelihoods here and all over the UK. We will be able to continue to participate in Europol and EuroJust and other mutually beneficial programmes that are so important for our security, universities and jobs. While it is perfectly logical to reject this “deal” because of the compromises it makes, I won’t be doing that.

This “deal” delivers Brexit in a humane and considered way and fulfils the objectives the PM outlined at the start of the process and which were agreed by Parliament. It has been welcomed by important organisations such as those representing business and industry as well as the NFU. I hope that Parliament will pass the final version of the “deal”. I will continue to support the PM to do so. We can then move on.

The really hard work of implementing the “deal” will then begin. It will take considerable focus and effort to implement it well over the next few years.

At the same time we will all need to spend more time in addressing the divisions in our society that came into sharp focus during the referendum campaign – divisions, often based on ignorance and fear, that are being manipulated by politicians and public figures with far left or right wing political ideology.

Their simplistic, popular remedies for our current problems often conceal their underlying ideology.  Fascism and socialism, with all the suffering that it brings, is not dead despite the battles fought in the last century and the manifest suffering of people subjected to socialism now in countries like Venezuela.

Now is the time for people who believe in our values of freedom, tolerance and compassion to stand up for them.

Update 15 November 2018

Last night I read the Government’s proposed agreements with the European Union that set out how we will leave the EU in an orderly way and develop a new and close relationship. A relationship that is based on our shared values, mutual security and economic prosperity. 

The negotiations are still not complete and the final proposed agreements will be presented to Parliament later this month for further and thorough debate. We will then vote on the final drafts of the agreements. 

Today, I listened carefully to the debate in the Commons. I believe that what the Prime Minister has agreed with the EU has delivered on what the referendum mandated: we will be leaving the EU in March next year, the right to free movement will end, we will take back control of our laws, and we will be leaving the Single Market. We will become an independent coastal nation.

Now I know that some Brexiteers and those who do not want to leave the EU will say that some of these things aren’t delivered instantly and that there remains some uncertainty on others. Some will protest that we will have to follow EU rules on goods.

And they will be right.

But crucially the deal also delivers continued, near friction free access to the EU markets which guarantees so many jobs and livelihoods here and all over the UK. We will be able to continue to participate in Europol and EuroJust and other mutually beneficial programmes that are so important to our universities, jobs and our economy.

While it is perfectly logical to reject this deal because of the compromises it makes, I won’t be doing so.

This deal delivers Brexit in a humane and considered way and fulfils the objectives the PM outlined at the start of the process and I hope that Parliament will pass it. I will continue to support the PM to do so.

Update 22 March 2018

As part of Brexit, the Government has launched a consultation paper on the future of food, farming and the environment and I want to make sure you have your views considered as part of this consultation. I will be meeting with local NFU members and farmers and want to hear your views too.

Passing on our precious natural environment in better condition than we found it to the next generation is a core Conservative value and aim of this Government. This consultation is a really important opportunity to shape future strategy and plans to deliver this aim.

Over the Eastertide, like many local people, I will be celebrating by bringing my family together for a meal of locally produced food. Despite the dreadful weather our farmers, food and drink producers have provided us all with an abundance of quality and choice.

Food is at the heart of every farming business and it is essential that Brexit should deliver opportunities for British food and farming. Agriculture accounts for over 70% of land use in the UK and food and farming provides 3.8 million jobs contributing £112 billion to the country’s economy.

When it comes to the food you eat, how much do you really know about the standards under which it is produced?  Red Tractor is the largest food standards scheme in the UK and ensures that the way food is farmed and prepared is checked against the highest of standards, covering animal welfare, food safety, traceability and environmental protection.

Food and drink bearing the Red Tractor logo has been produced responsibly to some of the most comprehensive and respected standards in the world and is regularly checked by independent experts from farm to pack.

All users of the logo have to keep comprehensive records of their Red Tractor products and are regularly inspected to ensure that this is happening. The flag in the Red Tractor logo tells you where your food has come from and that it has been farmed and prepared in the UK.

Red Tractor makes sure that everyone using the logo applies rigorous standards of food safety and hygiene to the way your food is produced – from farm to pack.

Red Tractor standards mean that animals have enough space, and safe and comfortable housing or shelter and unlimited access to fresh, clean drinking water and are provided with well balanced meals. All Red Tractor farmers have to keep a written health plan for their animals.

Farmers under the Red Tractor scheme must use responsible farming methods to minimise the risk of pollution. This means making sure that any pesticide and fertilisers that are used are stored safely and are applied correctly.

I would welcome your views on how we ensure that these high standards are maintained and enhanced and would value your opinions. I am also determined to see that the geographical designated food scheme that many of our local food producers benefit from, especially our Cornish Pasty makers and Fal Oyster fishermen continues post Brexit.

Update 30 June 2016

Last Thursday answered one question from which many more flow. Over the months ahead, as we reshape our relationships with European countries and the rest of the world, I will continue to do what is in the best interests of all the people I represent as well as our great country.

My immediate priority is to seek answers to the questions many local people have asked me. Their questions include - how will the promises made by the Brexiteers be delivered: replacing all the funding secured for Cornwall via the EU until 2020 and paying our farmers "at least as much as they get paid now"; improving the lot of our local fishermen & women and replacing the EU funding that our universities currently get for vital medical and other research. We currently get out more than we pay into EU research funds. And finally how will immigration be reduced without creating staff shortages, particularly in our local NHS.

The organisations representing the backbone of our local economy, small businesses, wanted to remain in the European Union as they understood the benefits. So I will be doing everything I can to ensure that our local small businesses can maintain fair access to the EU - the largest free market in the world.

At the same time, I will not be distracted from delivering the pledges I made when I was reelected just over a year ago - especially those concerning the most disadvantaged in our society - to improve their life chances.

Most importantly of all, I will be fighting for a tolerant and big hearted, united Great Britain. Now is the time for us all to come together. Together we have important work to do - to deliver the security and prosperity we all want to see for our family, our community and our nation.

Update 24 June 2016

Thank you to all the people who worked so hard on the Remain campaign in Cornwall. It was a pleasure working with so many people from different political parties and none on such a positive campaign.

While I am disappointed with the result, the people have spoken and I will be working together with my colleagues to ensure we negotiate the best possible relationship with the European Union. My immediate priority is to ensure that the funds Cornwall would have received from the EU, to enable investment in local people and businesses as well as vital infrastructure, are delivered by the UK government.

These are challenging times and I will continue to work hard for my constituents and for our great country. Being British feels different today and we will have to fight for the Britain we want to see.

Update 22 June 2016

How we vote really matters. It matters not just for us but for our children and grandchildren. Some of my older constituents have discussed their vote with the younger generation of their families and will vote according to their wishes. They know it's about their futures.

But it's about older people's futures too. We all want well-funded pensions and public services like the NHS and police. To raise the taxes to pay for vital public services we need a strong economy, with well paid jobs for local people. Small businesses in Cornwall have worked really hard through the recession to secure and create jobs here. All the credible, independent expert organisations on the economy, including the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce representing local businesses, say we are better off in the EU.

We are patriotic people who love our country and the emotive language of Leave - declaring UK Independence Day - is stirring stuff. Like you, I am worried about the huge challenges we face, including defending our hard won freedoms, controlling immigration, tackling climate change, building a strong economy and fair society for ourselves and our children.

As your local MP, my job is to do everything that I can to help people get on in life. It's clear to me that local families are better off in the EU and they can't afford the consequences of us leaving the EU.

Remember, as the EU changes, we all decide how. It is the British Parliament that decides if Turkey or another country joins the EU. You will decide, in automatic referendums, matters such as the UK joining the Euro or an EU Army.

We are Great Britain not little England. We must continue our important job of reforming the EU from within making our membership work for the UK.

Update 31 May 2016

Check out the EU facts using the BBC Fact Checker:

23 February 2016

While my vote in the Referendum on June 23rd has the same value as your vote, many people have asked me how I am going to vote and why. This is the first post that begins to answer those questions.

Last summer, when our son rowed for GB at the European Coupe de Jeunesse and the Union Jack was raised as we sung the National Anthem, I felt not only intensely proud of our son's personal achievement but also intense patriotism. I roared with the other British supporters urging our youngsters to beat those from across the European Union. 

When our family lived in Italy between 1998 and 2001, we experienced the benefits of the "free movement of labour" within the European Union.  Benefits shared by many thousands of British people.

Having also previously lived and worked in the USA, I understand how much I am shaped by where I come from and being British and proud to be British is at the core of who I am. So my decision is based on what I believe is best for Britain.

There is no doubt in my mind that the ruling elite of the European Union have become so detached that people are turning their backs in droves. The far right and left nationalist political parties with their hateful divisiveness and demagoguery eagerly exploit this. Daily images appear on our screens of European countries failing to deal with the current levels of migration are distressing. As an MP, I have seen first-hand many frustrating aspects of our membership of the European Union.

But I also think that we all too easily overlook the huge benefits for British people of having the opportunity to trade with and to work, live and study with ease in the largest market in the world. This is a market that shares broadly the same values as us and, like us, promotes freedom across the world. Do we really want to close down these opportunities for our children and grandchildren?

The founders of the European Union had an idealistic vision focusing on what united rather than divided the people who live in Europe. It was about preventing war by enabling economic and social and eventually political interdependence.  I don't believe that it was created to enable Germany to try and reopen the Second World War and achieve European domination by other means. On the contrary, I think the post-war Germans, encouraged by the French for obvious reasons, wanted to ensure German nationalism was checked. I doubt there is a country in the world that has taken such care to understand and learn from its history as Germany.

David Cameron's challenge to his peers in Europe is leading to some healthy soul searching about the future of the European Union. There is a group of European countries that have the political will to continue with the Euro and ever closer union and consequently will make decisions that will eventually lead them to resemble something like the United States of America. I also think that there will be member States who will be part of a looser European Union with mutual interests of trade and security at its core. I believe the interests of the British people are best served by being part of this kind of European Union. 

It is significant that David Cameron has won the argument that a member State can be part of the European Union without having to become a fully integrated member of a European Union moving towards a United States of Europe with a common currency. It has also been accepted that, having negotiated this special status, our vitally important industries will not be discriminated against.

If we leave, we will still be trading and working alongside the European Union but we wouldn't have a say about the rules. As our major allies and some of our most important trading partners have already warned, outside the European Union we would lose influence.

I hope people of all ages and walks of life will get involved with this question, the biggest we will be asked to decide on for a long time and one which will fundamentally affect our futures and the futures of generations to come.

I hope that the result of the referendum will be that we will remain in the European Union and that we will do so as a constructive, challenging, partner with renewed confidence in our ability to lead Europe on the massive challenges it faces - global migration, climate change, demographic change, sustainable economic growth, financial stability and threats to our liberty and way of life.

I also hope that our example will embolden those other member States who think as we do. The Prime Minister has negotiated a special status for the UK, but I don't think we are alone in our view as to the sort of European Union we want.

@ReformInEurope #EUref #reformineurope


Attachment Size
Explanatory Note for an Amended Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland 02/10/19 107.47 KB
PM Letter to Junker 02/10/19 224.45 KB
Letter from PM 02/10/19 192.26 KB
Revised Political Declaration 17/10/19 217.61 KB
Revised Protocol to the Withdrawal Agreement 17/10/19 439.08 KB