European Union

15th March 2019
Since my last update, as you will have seen, we have had two further days of voting on Brexit. 
On both Wednesday and Thursday nights the House of Commons voted on a government motion and series of amendments laid down by opposition MPs on how best to proceed with Brexit. 
The House voted on Wednesday night to rule out a No Deal Brexit, which I did not support, since I have been consistently clear that the risk of No Deal provides the only remaining leverage in these last key moments of negotiation with the EU. But the result of that vote leads us to a point where, if the House is not willing to support a No Deal Brexit or the Withdrawal Agreement, the only recourse is asking for a lengthy extension of Article 50. 
So this framed last night's votes.
I decided to vote for the technical extension to Article 50 if  the Withdrawal Agreement is passed by 20th March, to allow enough time for the relevant legislation to be passed. 
To be absolutely clear, I was not voting for an indefinite or unclear extension of Brexit. I had already voted this week to keep No Deal on the table as we negotiate, and last night voted against Labour's amendment to remove No Deal. I also voted against a second referendum, which was decisively defeated, as well as attempts to take away control of the Brexit timetable from the government. 
Last night's vote was purely about ensuring that, should the Withdrawal Agreement pass at the next vote, there is sufficient time to allow the technical ratification legislation to be carried through, (which incidentally is recognised as necessary by many in the ERG). 
So where do we go from here? Attention now shifts to all those MPs who want to deliver Brexit in accordance with the referendum result. The Withdrawal Agreement has been improved (including removing the Transition arrangements as the baseline for the future relationship negotiation and EU acceptance that alternative arrangements to the Northern Ireland backstop will be concluded by December 2020) and MPs across the House, including Conservative ERG members, the DUP, and Labour backbenchers who genuinely believe they need to deliver Brexit, need to recognise that the only Brexit which can be secured through Parliament is the Withdrawal Agreement - which will now require a brief period for technical legislation in UK and EU countries to ratify, hence a short extension.
The House showed demonstrably this week that there is no parliamentary majority for No Deal, and those who wish to deliver Brexit are now waking up to the argument that many of us have been making for months - that this Withdrawal Agreement is the only credible path to Brexit. 
We must wait and see how this plays out in votes in the Commons next week. 

13th March 2019
Last night the government's Brexit deal was defeated by 391 votes to 242. Having voted to Leave with a deal when the vote was first put earlier this year, you may not be surprised that I voted once again to support the deal and exit on 29th March. 
In light of the changes the PM had secured from the EU, (in the face of considerable intransigence on their part), I had hoped more colleagues would back the deal. Given the parliamentary arithmetic, this was clearly going to be the best chance to secure Brexit - which could now be put at risk. 
I felt supporting this deal was the best way to deliver on the vote of the referendum, and would allow the country to come back together and move on to facing the pressing domestic and international issues. But the House has made clear its view. 
As I write now, we do not yet know what amendments will be put forward today to the government motion on whether the House supports leaving the European Union without a deal on 29 March. So I await further information on the votes we can expect this evening. 
I expect to provide another update tomorrow.  

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