The Draft Withdrawal Agreement Vote (Brexit)


I continue to receive hundreds of emails and phone calls every single week from constituents about Brexit. Some of these ask me to support a No Deal Brexit. Others asked me to support leaving the EU with a deal, whilst a smaller number of people are asking for a second referendum. I think it is pretty clear to say that whichever way I vote in Parliament, I’m not going to please everyone.

The failure of Parliament to do its duty and to agree upon a way forward over the last few years is something that I know you will find both frustrating and worrying. The vast majority of people in the Calder Valley now just want this issue to be resolved and for the country to move on. I share those sentiments. 

Our new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has underlined his commitment to leave the European Union - with or without a deal - on 31st October. He has made it clear that his preference is to leave the EU with a new deal which can be agreed upon before the end of October. However, if such a deal cannot be agreed, he has made it clear that we cannot postpone Brexit once again and that, under such circumstances, we must leave without a deal.

I wholeheartedly agree with the stance taken by our new Prime Minister. Following the Referendum in 2016, I made it clear that we must honour the result of the Referendum. I was firmly of the opinion that leaving the EU with a deal which provided security for businesses, whilst giving us control of our money, laws and borders, should be the priority for the Government. I still believe that leaving the EU with a deal would be the best outcome for the UK and I urge our European partners to work with the Government so that we can come up with alternative arrangements for those parts of the previous withdrawal agreement (such as the ‘Irish backstop’) which both myself and colleagues had serious concerns about. If the Europeans are unwilling to agree upon a new deal then we must leave the EU on 31st October without a deal. 

I've included some further information on the current situation and the reasons for my position below: 

  • The UK voted to leave the EU in June 2016 after the biggest democratic exercise we have seen in this country for a long time. The Government made it clear that the British people would determine the final result and that this decision would be implemented.
  • As your MP, I stated that I would uphold the wishes of local people. Calderdale voted 55.7% to leave the EU and so I voted to trigger Article 50 so that we could leave the EU.
  • Since then, I have spent most of my time in Parliament serving as a Government Whip (and an Assistant Whip prior to that). Supporting the Government in delivering Brexit has been one of my key roles. I will continue to do everything that I can to support the Government in delivering Brexit from the backbenches when Parliament reconvenes in September.  
  • Events in Parliament over the last few months have seen MPs rule out leaving without a deal and vote to extend Article 50. I disagreed with both of these decisions – I voted to leave a No Deal on the table (it is ridiculous to compromise our negotiating position by ruling out a No Deal) and voted against extending Article 50 when this was first proposed to the House. Some MPs will undoubtedly continue to try and prevent the UK from leaving the EU, and to trigger a 2nd Referendum, when Parliament returns in September. I will not support any attempts to do this for the reasons stated above. 

So just to be absolutely clear:

  • I am still 100% committed to doing everything that I can as your MP to deliver the Brexit that people voted for. I will continue to support the Government's attempts to negotiate with our European partners so that we can leave the EU with a deal.  
  • If we cannot agree upon a deal to leave the EU, we must leave on 31st October without a deal. 

A Second Referendum

The 2016 Referendum led to disagreements in families, friendship groups, and workplaces across the whole country as people took different views on the issues at hand. These disagreements are now in the past for most people and all that a Second Referendum would do is open these disagreements up once again. It would take us back to square one. It wouldn’t solve anything because the country would be split down the middle again, and the uncertainty it would create would be bad for democracy and bad for the economy. The vast majority of people in the Calder Valley have accepted the result of the original Referendum and now just want the Government to get on with delivering Brexit. Furthermore, Parliament has voted against a Second Referendum on several occasions.

I hope this helps to explain my thoughts about Brexit and thank you to all who have taken the time to contact me about this important issue. I will be updating this response as the events unfold, so please keep checking if you have further questions as the situation progresses.

Craig Whittaker MP

1st August 2019