Letter to Constituents Following Meaningful Vote 3

Thank you for writing to me on the subject of Brexit.

I am grateful for all the correspondence I receive and since my first election in 2015 I have prided myself in replying personally to constituents.

Although the proportion of constituents writing to me about Brexit is relatively small, the number of emails has been substantial and I very much regret that I am not able to send an individual reply to each on this issue. 

I will however continue to post regular updates on my website (www.jeremyquin.com) setting out the Parliamentary process and my own actions.   

My Position 

I have consistently supported the Prime Minister’s agreed deal.  This has been negotiated over two years with the EU.  I believe this is a good deal that works for the UK.

It represents a sensible and pragmatic route to leaving the EU.

The Withdrawal Agreement returns sovereignty to the UK: the UK will leave the jurisdiction of the ECJ; Parliament will resume full control of immigration policy, law and regulations in the UK; the UK will take back full control of our fishing waters and agricultural policy and much else besides.

The Agreement also protects the rights of UK citizens resident in the EU; ensures the Ireland/Northern Ireland border remains open; provides an implementation period to help UK businesses and farmers adjust and guarantees no customs, quotas or tariffs will be imposed on our trade with Europe.

That is why I believe it is the right solution and why I have consistently supported it at every stage.

Had Parliament done likewise we would by now have left the European Union.

I support the Political Declaration which provides significant optionality to the UK in the next part of the Brexit process, thereby maximising our negotiating flexibility.  I prefer this to leaving with a commitment to join either the Single Market or the Customs Union (or both) in advance of these talks even beginning:  this is why I voted against both on 27th March.  It is worth pointing out that for anyone supporting either form of softer Brexit the Withdrawal Agreement is the path that allows a deal and an orderly departure to be secured.  

For those who have written to support my position and the agreed deal I am grateful for your support for what is a proposal which, in my view, honours the Referendum result and works for the UK.

Those opposing the Withdrawal Agreement generally either do so because they believe the proposed deal is an insufficiently “hard” Brexit (preferring “No Deal””) or because they want the whole question of Brexit put back to the country for a second referendum. 

No Deal

No Deal remains the “default” position for both the EU and UK.  In rejecting the Withdrawal Agreement on 29th March Parliament voted down the last legally committed extension provided to the UK by the EU:  if at the European Council on 10th/11th April any of the 27 Remaining EU states vetoes a further extension, the UK will leave without a deal on 12th April.  

I believe the UK has done all it can to prepare for a “No Deal” outcome and we are in as good a position as we could be to manage the identifiable risks.  The UK will however in the short term be impacted by how prepared the EU is for such an outcome and the measures that would immediately be put in place to handle this circumstance. 

Were we to leave without a deal we would lose a vast array of non-economic benefits that have been agreed as part of the Withdrawal Agreement including on security co-operation and UK citizens’ rights.  The current “open” border arrangements between Northern Ireland and Ireland would cease. The implementation period – designed to allow British businesses and farmers to adjust to the new trading environment – would be replaced with a rapid change for which most UK businesses are unprepared.

The economic friction created by trading with the European Union on WTO terms would have an adverse impact on economic growth and trading on WTO terms with the EU would have an immediate impact on our tariff schedule with every other country with whom we trade globally.  

Following this departure the first task of the UK would then be to sit down with the European Union, as our closest and largest trading partner, to agree a trading agreement.  It seems to make far more sense to me to arrange future trading terms before we cease the current arrangements and thereby avoid economic uncertainty.

While, in a no deal outcome, the UK’s flexible and open economy would adapt and evolve, as would our trading links, I do not believe this is the ideal way to embark on our future outside of the EU.

That is why, while recognising it as a default position, one which I have always voted to “keep in on the table”, leaving with no deal is not my preferred choice.  I therefore voted against it as my preferred route forward when offered that opportunity on 27th March.

Second Referendum/Revocation

Parliament (by a very large majority, backed by both the largest political parties) gave the British people the final say on the UK's membership of the EU. As in every public vote, it was up to the electorate to judge the merits of the different arguments and over 17.4 million voters decided to leave the EU. 

There was no question in parliamentary debates at the time of this vote being “advisory”.  To the contrary in a leaflet sent to every household the Government stated that it would implement the decision. 

While I supported remaining as did Horsham District (by 51 per cent to 49 per cent), we do not actually know how people voted in the Horsham constituency.  Votes were not counted on a constituency basis and the constituency is not contiguous with the District. However this was a decision that in any event could only be taken by the UK as a whole. Before the referendum I pledged to honour the result of the national vote, a commitment I repeated prior to my re-election in the 2017 General Election.

In that General Election both main political parties pledged in their manifestos to respect the EU referendum result and candidates of political parties pledged to honour the result received well over 80 per cent of the vote. 

MPs from across the political spectrum voted 494 to 122 in favour of invoking Article 50 in 2017. The exit negotiations have now concluded and as set out above, I support their agreed outcome.

Having voted to hold a referendum that the Government said it would implement, having received the result of that referendum and having negotiated an outcome consistent with that result I think it is incumbent on Parliament to honour the result of the Referendum and for MPs to honour the commitments they have made to their constituents.  For these reasons I do not support a second referendum and voted against it on 27th March.

Ongoing Communication

All these issues are covered in greater detail in postings on my website which I will continue to update as this issue evolves.

Thank you for writing to me.

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy Quin