It gave me no pleasure to vote against the Withdrawal Agreement. As a Unionist first and foremost I could not in all good conscience support a plan that would treat Northern Ireland like a foreign country within our United Kingdom and impose a regulatory border down the Irish Sea. To do so risks the integrity of our country and it would be doing Nicola Sturgeon’s work for her.
The Prime Minister has said many times that no deal is better than a bad deal.
Make no mistake, this was a bad deal.
It would have put the very fabric of the Union at risk. It would stop us signing free trade deals with the world’s fastest growing economies. It would It would lock us into EU rules indefinitely. It would be bad for Scots fishermen. It would not hold true to the 2016 referendum result and it would badly batter the public’s faith in democracy.
Now this deal has been resoundingly rejected, the PM with a strengthened hand from Parliament should return to Brussels and make clear that the UK parliament will not support this deal – and particularly not the backstop proposals for Northern Ireland.
We want a free trade deal with the EU – we should not be afraid to push much harder to secure that.
But if the EU will not budge, then we should be prepared to leave under WTO terms.
Britain can and will thrive outside of the EU, but only if we seize the opportunity.
We cannot simply capitulate and allow the EU to dictate the terms of our departure.
That would risk missing the chance to strike free trade deals around the world, boost exports and revitalise our fishing industry after decades of decline at the hands of the Common Fisheries Policy.
It is time to think again, to be bold and to deliver on the wishes of the British people.