Statement from Sir David Amess, MP for Southend West, on his votes on the EU Withdrawal Agreement on Tuesday 12th March and his voting intentions for the 13th and 14th of March.
'I have been inundated with emails, from constituents and non-constituents alike, on the subject of Brexit. In line with Parliamentary protocol, I will only be replying to those from my constituents living in Southend West.
I wish to state yet again my view of the UK's membership of the EU. As many of you know, I never wanted to join the EU in the first place. In 1975, I voted to leave the Common Market as it was then. By the time the 2016 EU referendum was held, I had been an Member of Parliament for many years and again voted to leave the European Union. In what was one of the largest democratic exercises that this country has ever seen, the people made the decision to leave. I fully understand the disappointment of those who voted to Remain at the outcome of the referendum, but that is the fundamental nature of our democracy.
Ever since the referendum result was declared, and Article 50 triggered, I have been looking forward to the UK leaving the EU under the most advantageous trading conditions possible. We are due to leave the EU at 11pm on the 29th March, and I very much want that to happen. My views on the leaving the EU, and the opportunities that embracing a truly independent global trading Britain can bring, were contained in a speech I made in Parliament on 11th January. This can be found at https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2019-01-11/debates/DBEB14BC-9AE7-4965-9DC9-3C5B273B8CE7/EuropeanUnion(Withdrawal)Act#contribution-9DACD4C5-016E-4818-AA63-1312CF352D34
On 19th November, I published on my website my response to the draft Withdrawal Agreement presented by the Prime Minister. Since that time, there have been many statements and votes in Parliament on further negotiations on that deal. I, and many other Conservative MPs, have consistently told the Prime Minister that we would not support the Withdrawal Agreement unless a number of assurances were secured on the Irish Backstop. Having attended various meeting yesterday on the changes bought back by the Attorney General and Brexit Secretary, I and 39 of my Conservative colleagues decided to add our support to the Prime Minister's Motion. We are still not happy with all aspects of the overall deal, but with just 2 weeks left the danger is now that we may lose Brexit completely. It has been a rather unfortunate fact that throughout these negotiations, a large number of Members of Parliament do not want us to leave the EU at all.
Yesterday, I felt personally reassured by the assurances brought by the Attorney General on the Backstop, and thought it important that we now move onto the next stage of negotiations. I wanted to encourage the EU to recognise that we do know what we want, and if they were more willing to met our requests then it will be much more likely that we can leave the EU with a satisfactory arrangement for both sides.
Today (13th March), I shall be voting in favour of keeping No-deal as the fallback position. To take No-Deal off the table would weaken our hand in the vital final stages of negotiations and, I fear, would be used to stop Brexit altogether.