Worcester’s MP Robin Walker has welcomed the fact that for the first time in three and a third years since the referendum, the House of Commons has voted for a deal so that the UK can leave the EU in an orderly fashion. Robin has already done this on a number of previous occasions, but this is the first time that a clear majority in the House have voted for legislation to deliver a deal.
Securing the deal would mean securing certainty for millions of people – EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living around Europe that not only would their right to remain be respected, as the UK has been clear it will in any case, but that their wider rights would be protected through a binding international agreement which covers recognition of professional qualifications, family reunion, healthcare, pensions and many other areas. Robin has always been clear that such a deal is the best outcome for citizens but particularly for UK citizens who have not had such a generous offer from their host states in all cases.
It would also mean securing the certainty of a transition period in which the rules do not change for business and in which customs and trading arrangements for both goods and services remain the same during the negotiation of a future partnership. This is something that businesses across the country have made clear to Ministers that they want and from local businesses in Worcester to international investors in London, Scotland and Northern Ireland, there would be huge relief at such a transition being in place. The EU has also made clear that it could put in place essential agreements such as a data adequacy arrangement during such a transition period, which it could not do prior to the UK’s departure from the EU.
Robin supports the Government’s objective of a best in class trade deal with the EU and a good deal on security, data, science and education but one that clearly allows the UK to strike trade deals of its own and to emerge from the EU intact as one United Kingdom.
He was looking forward to leading the debate in the committee stages of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill on how the legislation protects the unique set of arrangements in Northern Ireland that were enabled by the Good Friday Agreement, respecting the principle of consent, the need to avoid a hard border and the importance of both North South and East West cooperation and Trade. The Bill contains a dedicated mechanism to protect the rights enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement and has been approved by the Governments of both the UK and the Republic of Ireland. It will give the Northern Ireland Assembly the chance to decide if the special protocol on Northern Ireland should continue to apply or if it should be superseded by alternative arrangements three years after the UK leaves the transition period.
The deal addresses concerns that many MPs held about the backstop in the previous deal whilst ensuring that there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. It would mean that the UK can formally leave the EU at the end of this month and begin the next phase of negotiations as a fully independent nation state, free to negotiate its own deals on trade, fisheries, security and other matters.
Robin voted for the Government’s programme motion which would have meant all stages of the bill could have been completed in the next week but a small majority in the House voted to delay this and the bill is now paused awaiting a decision from the European Council on whether to extend negotiations. Having repeatedly voted to get Brexit done and to do it with a deal the MP has expressed his frustration at any delay, but his determination to deliver on his promises to constituents.
Commenting on yesterday’s events in Parliament, Robin said
“Make no mistake last nights historic vote on second reading was a breakthrough moment where it became clear that the House of Commons can and will approve a deal on Brexit. I have argued from the very start on the first day after the referendum that the only way to bring people together and move the country forward is to deliver a deal which allows us to leave the EU with the best arrangements in place. I have voted now four times to leave with a deal and I am delighted that with the support of a handful of patriotic labour MPs who put keeping their promises above obeying the party whip we now have the support of the commons in doing so.”
“Securing this deal is about much more than party politics – it is about bringing people together, respecting a democratic vote and moving the country forward. The deal protects the integrity of the UK, the peace process in Northern Ireland and the principle of consent. It will also provide much needed certainty to millions of citizens and businesses up and down the country.”
“Of course it is enormously frustrating that the debate cannot go forward today as a result of a heavily whipped vote on a programme motion in which Labour, Lib Dems and the SNP conspired to delay progress, but it is not the end of the argument. I hope that in the coming days the government will be able to come forward with a new programme for this bill and we can get that programme into place to deliver an orderly and agreed exit on time. I have consistently voted to deliver Brexit on time and with a deal. I will keep on doing so. If the House of Commons will not allow this to happen, as most of its members clearly promised they would in their manifestos, then we should get on and have a General Election.”
“Whilst attempts to delay and distract are hugely frustrating, I don’t think we should lose sight of the significance of the second reading vote last night. At last we have a deal that the House has approved, and the Prime Minister is clear that we can now get on and leave the EU with a deal. Many doubted that he would be able to get the Withdrawal agreement changed at all and he has, they doubted he would bring anything back to the house and they doubted he could win a vote on it. He has repeatedly proven the doubters wrong. I will continue to back him to deliver a deal, deliver on promises that I have made in each of the three elections I have won and to deliver what the people of Worcester voted for.”