Peter Aldous outlines his position on the indicative votes, stating that he will respect the result of 2016 referendum and will back the Prime Minister’s deal if it comes back before the House as the best way to deliver Brexit in an orderly way and revitalise the Lowestoft fishing industry. He says he will support the EFTA option as a viable plan B.
What we are doing this evening is what we should have done a long time ago, at the outset of this process. Something of the magnitude of Brexit has never been attempted before anywhere else in the world. We should have put down the foundations before laying the bricks.
That said, my favoured course is to support the withdrawal agreement that the Government have negotiated, and if there is another vote on it I shall support it again. It delivers Brexit in an orderly, non-disruptive way, and it provides the framework for revitalising the Lowestoft and East Anglian fishing industry.
In considering the various alternatives that have been suggested, I am mindful of the need to respect the 2016 referendum and I shall therefore not be voting for a second referendum or revocation of article 50. I have listened to impassioned and persuasive arguments for why we should do so, but I sense that if we go down that road we will leave a lot of people all around the country very puzzled, bewildered and, I am afraid, angry.
As a second option to the withdrawal agreement, I believe that we should consider motion (H), tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Camborne and Redruth (George Eustice). It would involve the UK remaining a member of the European economic area and returning to the European Free Trade Association, which we invented in 1959 and which involves no customs union and no backstop. That delivers on the referendum result, as the European Communities Act 1972 would be repealed on time, without an extension, and we would legally leave the EU. It also has the advantage, from my perspective, that we would leave the common fisheries policy sooner and would be able to implement the emerging policy.
With regard to leaving without a deal, I have in the past week canvassed local business, trade associations and representatives for their positions. They include businesses from the haulage, oil and gas, packaging, leisure, farming and food processing sectors, as well as health providers and utility companies. They are all concerned about the impact on their businesses of leaving the EU on WTO terms and, by implication, the potential negative knock-on impact both on those who work for them and on those to whom they provide goods and services.
In conclusion, the current logjam has been going on for far too long. We need to remove the uncertainty as quickly as possible and get on with delivering Brexit in an orderly way.
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