28th March Brexit Update

Letwin Proposals to take power away from the Government and give it to Parliament.


Earlier this week I voted to oppose this move to take control of the Parliament timetable and force Parliament to vote on indictive votes.   I did this because the Government committed, during the debate, that they were going to table indicative votes if the amendment did not succeed.  I also believe that Parliament, rather than the Government having control, is not the correct procedural method to operate with. Had the Government brought forward these indicative votes, it would have allowed all MPs the opportunity to hold the Government and Ministers to account.  The process that was agreed sees control given to a backbencher with no opportunity to enforce such accountability.  


Revocation of Article 50.


While it is of course possible to revoke Article 50, I am one of 80% of MPs currently sitting in the House of Commons who were elected on manifestos to enact the referendum result and 56% of the votes cast in Scotland in the 2017 General Election were for parties promising to respect the referendum result and deliver Brexit. 


I understand this is not the answer many people are looking for, but I hope you will understand that this is an issue that still divides opinion and it will be impossible for me to please all constituents in Moray on any aspect of Brexit.  Moray had the closest vote in the referendum, with only 122 votes separating leave and remain, and while many have written to me asking me to support revoking Article 50, many others have contacted me urging me not to revoke it and continue with Brexit.


Indicative Votes.


On Wednesday night, for the first time since I have been elected as MP, we voted in indicative ballots.  Sadly history shows that these votes rarely provide a majority for any proposal and this was the case again last night.


I abstained on the vote for No Deal.  While I voted for this issue to remain while negotiations were ongoing, I did not support the wording of this amendment.  I also abstained on the vote about contingent preferential arrangements.  My concern over this was the extended implementation period which I have concerns about.


The following six votes I opposed and will briefly explain why.


  • Common Market 2.0 – Maintaining a customs union with the EU is incompatible with signing new trade deals through EFTA, so it is unclear how this arrangement would work.
  • EFTA and EEA – Similar concerns to customs union.
  • Customs Union – Would remove our ability to negotiate new trade deals and our say in trade deals that the EU negotiates.
  • Labour’s Alternative Plan – Would not allow an independent trade policy or control of our laws.
  • Revocation – I have explained above why I don’t support revoking Article 50.
  • Confirmatory public vote – We were told at the referendum that politicians would respect the result and we must do that.  If there is another vote, which may be equally close, there would undoubtably be further calls for another referendum.