A number of constituents have written to me to share their views since the Prime Minister set out the draft withdrawal agreement on the 14th of November, and so I wanted to set out my views.
I believe the UK deserves a better deal than that which is currently on offer. No one can possibly know why each of the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the EU did so. But I am certain that very few of them did so in the hope or expectation that we'd end up with the deal that the Prime Minister has done with the EU.
There are hundreds of pages of detail in the draft withdrawal agreement. The terms over which many have expressed serious misgivings would, for all intents and purposes, bind the UK to the rules of the EU and the jurisdiction of the ECJ without our having any ability to influence those rules.
It is theoretically possible that during the proposed transition period both sides could agree a comprehensive free trade agreement, and thereby avoid the so-called 'backstop.' But that is unlikely.
The backstop suits the EU far better than it suits the UK. It would require us to pay large annual sums to Brussels, it would effectively subject us to Customs Union and Single Market rules, with no UK say in framing those rules - and it would divide Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K.
There is little incentive for the EU to negotiate in good faith, which means the backstop could easily become the long-term basis of the UK-EU relationship. Indeed, in his resignation letter, Dominic Raab made it clear that the backstop "is now also taken as the starting point for negotiating the Future Economic Partnership".
The current withdrawal deal has united Leave and Remain voters in the House and has virtually no chance of making it through Parliament. Time is fast running out, and given the near-certainty of the deal being voted down in Parliament, I don't believe we can afford to waste more time on it. I have therefore made clear that I will not be supporting it.
I don't agree that the choice is between this deal, 'no deal,' or no Brexit. There is time to bring forward the option which Brussels has long been expecting - and which makes most sense for the 5th largest economy in the World: a withdrawal agreement that lays the foundations for a comprehensive free trade agreement based on mutual respect and recognition.
I understand that this issue - more than any other in my political lifetime - divides opinion. On this issue, it is not possible to take a position that unites everyone. Whether it be calls for a second referendum, for a 'no deal', for a comprehensive Canada-style free trade agreement, or simply for Brexit to be abandoned - each position elicits a passion and sometimes even fervour, the likes of which I have never seen in politics. However my job is nevertheless to focus on effecting decisions which in my view offer the best hope for the future of our country.