Brexit seems to have dragged on for ever and I can well understand people who are fed up with it dominating our news and preventing discussion of other important issues, such as school funding, hospital waiting lists, rising crime and climate change.
So the majority of my weekly columns are on local issues, but now MPs are finally able to vote on a way forward for Brexit, I want to make sure I’m accountable, so here are some of the main questions I’m asked:
Why are MPs voting against the Prime Minister’s deal?
Most MPs have voted against Theresa Mays’s Deal three times. I did because it’s just a stop-gap until the end of next year. Then we’d have to negotiate a permanent trade deal from a position of isolation and weakness. We’re unlikely to get a good deal and there’s no guarantee for our rights and protections.
Why’s it taking so long?
The PM has been refusing to change her deal to gain support from MPs from other parties. Instead she’s tried to change the agreement about the Irish border but this isn’t possible. The government have deliberately waited until near the deadline to try and force MPs to vote for the PM’s deal.
Why have MPs been voting on different options?
When the PM refused to change her deal, MPs voted to allow different options to be put forward to try and make progress.
What options have you voted for?
I stood on a manifesto for a deal with the EU to support trade and keep jobs in the UK, so I’ve been supporting options with a Customs Union and access to the Single Market. Local businesses have said they need these to maximise their trade, and in my survey of constituents, half of people who voted to leave the EU said they wanted them too.
Why don’t you want to leave with No Deal?
We’d go from the largest free trade area to the only country with no trade deals. They take years to negotiate and in the meantime businesses will leave the UK and jobs be lost. We’d have to accept rules imposed on us by other countries and have tariffs with the EU, our main trading partner, which would raise prices and disadvantage UK businesses and farmers.
Every prediction says we’d make the UK worse off and people would suffer. It’s too big a risk for a responsible government, as the vast majority of MPs agree.
What happens now?
I’m hoping Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn can sort out a compromise that we can put to a vote to confirm it’s what people still want. Then we can all concentrate on all the other important issues.