MP for North Swindon

Justin Tomlinson MP

Swindon Advertiser Column: MPs Of All Parties Need To Step Up & Put National Interest First


They say that a week can be a long time in politics. Currently, an hour feels like a lifetime! That’s because there is one topic dominating the proceedings in Westminster this week – with 5 days (40 Parliamentary hours) of protected debating time ahead of next Tuesday’s important vote.

Backbench MPs are getting the opportunity to put their views abour the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal on the record, and it’s clear that MPs fall into 3 distinct (and determined) categories.

Category 1 - Those MPs who oppose the deal because they vehemently oppose Brexit.

Category 2 – Those MPs who have a major problem with the deal, because they say it doesn’t necessarily deliver the Brexit that they wanted.

Category 3 – Those MPs who recognise that both sides need to compromise and support the Prime Minister’s deal – frankly, getting on and delivering Brexit.

As I have said before, I place myself in category 3. That isn’t because I believe the Prime Minister’s deal is perfect – I don’t think it was ever going to be perfect; especially when the PM has had to juggle both sides whilst dealing with opposition MPs who have attempted to delay, frustrate & reverse the Brexit process in Parliament.

But we have to be realistic about two key issues:

Firstly, to prevent a no deal scenario without a suitable transition. If we were to leave without a deal, we should have announced this at least 12 months ago so that businesses could adapt. I have regular meetings with Honda & BMW, and met with Honda this week, who again emphasised the importance of transitional arrangements which this deal will put in place.

Secondly, the Parliamentary numbers. There is not a majority in Parliament for Brexit. The majority of MPs continue to frustrate the Brexit process, including this week when opposition MPs voted to give MPs more control over Brexit, effectively taking power away from the verdict delivered by the public.

This is partly an attempt by the Remain MPs to either cancel Brexit or push forward with a second referendum; and it is partly the Labour Party using this vitally important issue (which is one of our country’s most pivotal moments) as nothing more than a political tool to topple the Government.

So with those key (and unavoidable) factors in mind, I will be supporting the Prime Minister’s deal. It is not 100% what I would have hoped it to be, but then nobody won 100% of the vote in the referendum. As with any business negotiation, or most life-changing circumstances, there are always compromises. 

The PM’s Brexit deal delivers the democratic will, allows sensible and pragmatic transitional arrangements (vital for trade, jobs and growth) and crucially delivers control of our borders, an end to sending vast sums of money to the EU, the ability to strike our own free trade deals, and ensures we back control of our laws.

Now should we lose the vote on Tuesday, the PM has 21 days to go back to the EU and seek further changes before returning to Parliament.

The Government is rightly seeking to deliver on the democratic will of the referendum. The public rightly expect Brexit to be delivered, but we should do it in an orderly and sensible manner. Collectively, MPs of all parties need to step up and put the national interest first.

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