Statement from Craig Tracey on voting against the EU Withdrawal Agreement

As I stated before Christmas, without significant and substantial improvements  to the Withdrawal Bill proposal I would be unable to vote  for it.

I believe that the democratic will of local residents, and that of the majority  of the country who voted to leave the EU, must be realised. We 650 MPs in the House of Commons have a responsibility to  deliver the mandate to leave of 17.4million
  – the largest ever mandate in the UK’s  history.

Yesterday I was restricted to just two minutes in Parliament to outline my views on the  proposals, but below is the intended full speech I planned  to give, which sets out my reasoning for voting against the  Prime Minister’s deal.
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It is no secret that I voted to leave the EU as did 67% of my  constituents and nearly seventeen and a half million people  across UK.

The reasons voting to leave varied across the country, but I have  spoken with thousands of my constituents before, during and  after the referendum and they were clear what they voted  for. They wanted to see:

·      An end to Free Movement and for control of our  borders  ·     

·    Sovereignty for our Parliament

·      The ability to trade freely around the world

And I very much share these sentiments.

I appreciate the negotiations have been tough – however,  the Prime Minister has gained concessions from EU –  the End to Freedom of Movement being most notable –  which is particularly welcomed by my constituents.

I also agree that it is in the best interests of both UK and the EU  to reach a deal. But not at all costs.
If we aren’t prepared to walk away from negations then  we were undone before we even started.

It is concerning that under these proposals the United Kingdom, as  a Union is under threat - in its current format - if we vote  this deal through history will look back unkindly on this  Parliament for the consequences it will have for our  Union.

Northern Ireland and the integrity of the UK may not have been at the  forefront of constituents’ minds when voting –  but it is imperative that we protect it.

We are told that the Backstop will supposedly come in to effect as  matter of last resort – however I don’t buy this. I know the UK would approach the next stage of  negotiations in the spirit it was intended, but I have no such confidence in EU.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that we do not want the Backstop and nor do EU. Which begs question why do we have  it? Somebody must want it!

I believe the PM when she says we don’t want it - so that leaves only the EU. And it is easy to see why: this gives them the upper hand in negotiations.

And it is a fact that the Government’s own legal advice states  clearly that “the protocol would endure  indefinitely”.

I understand that compromise is part of any negotiation but I  do not feel that the goodwill shown by PM has been  reciprocated.

Another concern regarding these proposals around the legal status of Withdrawal agreement and  that it leaves us no guarantees on political declaration (our future relationship with the EU).

In reality this places the UK at the mercy of the EU. Once this deal is  agreed on by Parliament, which would only need to be agreed  by a majority of the EU states,  to a position whereby  on all future parts of the deal, they would need to be unanimously agreed  by each of the 27 Member States. Put simply, if any one of  them didn’t like any element of the agreement, they  could potentially vote it down or add their own wish list to  it!

Evidence of this in practice can be seen in the trade deal the EU negotiated  with Canada whereby one region of Belgium halted the whole  deal.

We cannot then then unilaterally leave the transition period or  even prevent the backstop.

Surely the political declaration should offer at very least  cast iron protective guarantees to move it as close as  possible to the legal status of the withdrawn  agreement.

Moreover the deal on table potentially gives away our sovereignty  and £39bn with nothing guaranteed in  return!

In my view this isn’t a good deal.

Ultimately we need an agreement from both sides that we can get behind - this one stacks all the decks against us.
I would argue that the tone of these negotiations is reflective of  the very reason so many millions voted to leave in first  place. The EU continues to prove that it is unwilling (or unable) to reform  – and I fear they would be quite happy to keep us  tied to their rules for as long as possible.

I was keen that we reached an agreement that I would be able to  support, however, in its current format, I  cannot.

The proposals do not meet two of the criteria set out earlier by constituents: taking back control of our sovereignty and the  ability to freely trade.

Therefore I believe that, if necessary, walking away and trading on  World Trade Organisation rules isnot something we should  automatically be afraid of.

Business
I have listened to businesses across my constituency and more  widely. I have heard their concerns - many organisations are  simply not ready for no deal scenario, particularly in  supply chains.

We need to consider the impacts of that and look at what measures can  be put in place.

This could have a particular impact in constituency because of the  type of industry we have - logistics and “just in  time” manufacturing sectors.

It is only right to make constituents aware - many who are strongly  against this deal and who have suggested that we walk away  – of the potential risk in this regard be it short,  medium or long term.

However, I have also met with many who are a lot more optimistic. For  example on Small Business Saturday I met with Sykes  Timber  a 150 year old timber business who export  around world. This includes export to EU member states and they are already in talks  with those businesses about how they will come to  compromises on tariffs. I am pleased to say that they were  very positive about business resilience & future, even  in no deal scenario.

This re-enforced my belief - as former small business owner  myself – that businesses adapt to their markets and  external influences.

Furthermore it is work remembering that tariffs do not mean a complete  cessation of trade.

Successful businesses are successful for a reason; they always have to  deal with changing environments and adapt to that change.

As someone who believes in leaving the EU I want us to seize the  opportunities Brexit brings.

To conclude I feel that this withdrawal agreement  proposal doesn’t  represent what either I or the  majority of my local  constituents in North Warwickshire and Bedworth voted for in 2016.

In its current format I am unable to support it.

To reiterate I believe that getting an agreement is the most  favourable option but not at all costs.

It is not too late to change course, we can still secure amendments  which deliver wholly on referendum result.

Those changes need to include getting rid of Northern Ireland  Backstop and having guarantees on our future relationship,  then I suspect that we will see the proposals will likely  command a majorit in the house.

Importantly, we must deliver the democratic will of  British people. They are understandably frustrated at the  games of some politicians who seek to frustrate the  democratic result of the referendum.
 
I implore the Prime Minister, go back, I know the EU have said this  deal is final, but we know that they constantly move the  goal posts; they said we wouldn’t get an end to free  movement without being in customs union but the Prime Minister has achieved  that.

So let’s get a deal that will bring a majority in this  house and deliver the Brexit that my constituents and  millions around the country voted for in 2016.