Over breakfast on Monday, I heard, for the umpteenth time, the commentators on the television emphasising the importance of the week ahead. For once, this wasn’t media hyperbole. Undoubtedly, this has been another mammoth political week with far reaching consequences.
On Tuesday evening, the Withdrawal Agreement that the UK Government had secured with the EU, along with some legally binding changes on the so-called Irish Backstop, was rejected by the House of Commons.
As I write this, I am therefore preparing to vote on whether to leave the EU without a deal. Whilst, I am not convinced by the doomsday scenarios advocated by some in the event of No Deal, I do not believe such an outcome is in the best interests of the United Kingdom. It may well cause significant and unwanted disruption and loss, particularly to us here in Kent. I also believe there is no majority in the House of Commons for leaving with No Deal with MPs from all sides likely to reject the prospect.
It is therefore very likely that, as you are reading this, I am preparing to vote on whether to ask the Prime Minister to seek a short extension to Article 50 and a delay to Brexit. I am deeply concerned about this prospect as I believe this could be extremely damaging for trust in our democracy. I also believe that a potential six to eight week extension solves none of Parliament’s current problems and simply kicks the can further down the road. This would only serve to create even more uncertainty for citizens and businesses across our country which is extremely unpalatable.
However, time is now running short and, unfortunately, uncertainty is prevailing. I hope therefore that my colleagues will, in the time remaining, come together, invoke the spirit of compromise and find an agreement which secures our timely and negotiated departure from the EU.