Tonight's vote on the EU Withdrawal Agreement

In recent weeks again, I have had dozens of conversations with local people, received thousands of letters and emails from constituents, and visited and heard from many of our brilliant local businesses.

The key issue at the heart of each and every conversation in relation to Brexit comes to a point this evening – the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement.

Some have said that they feel people were not ‘informed’ ahead of the referendum, and that therefore their vote should not count. To those people I say that every home in the country was sent a pamphlet by the Government making VERY clear what leaving the EU could mean, and regardless, 52.5% of those that voted in the referendum in Eastleigh, voted to leave the EU. The turnout in that election was one of the highest recorded in any election in our constituency at 78.2%.

Others have said that they feel that there should be a second referendum. The vast majority of those pushing this option would privately prefer that we never left the EU, and their so called ‘Peoples Vote’ campaign is nothing more than an underhand ploy to reverse the result of the referendum.

Meanwhile, many have said that they feel that the UK should leave the EU on the 29th March on WTO rules, i.e. a No Deal. However, as we continue to celebrate record high employment in the UK, with The Resolution Foundation saying that “low-income households, disadvantaged groups and traditionally low employment urban areas are benefitting most from Britain’s jobs boom”, as a Member of Parliament, I have a responsibility to listen to the concerns of local employers who fear for the future of jobs in our area.

Therefore, and after a great deal of thought, I will be voting for the Withdrawal Agreement, the only deal on the table this evening, a deal that vitally:

  • Respects the referendum taking back control of our laws, our money and our borders and allowing us to trade with our friends and allies around the world.
  • Safeguards our economy, with large local employers like GE Aviation and Prysmian supporting the deal.
  • Offers a compromise around which we can begin to heal our political divisions.
  • Retains close diplomatic links to the EU while paving the way for a new trade relationship with our closest neighbours.
  • Avoids both the dangers of No Deal or No Brexit.

And very quickly, let’s look at the political alternatives.

• Labour – Continue to fail to present their own Brexit plan, with many of their MPs continuing to support remaining in the EU.

• Lib Dems – Have made clear that they wish to use a Second Referendum to ignore the result of the referendum and what 17.4 million voted for.

• UKIP – Have demonstrated how their plan would have no regard for safeguarding jobs or our economy, nor heal our nations divisions.

In a matter of hours we will know if the deal has passed, and I will look carefully at the next steps, but one thing I am absolutely sure on is this, in June 2016 the majority of the people I represent joined me in voting to leave the EU. We all had our reasons for doing so, but more than two years on from that vote, we MUST get on with it, and that will be my continued mission.