• BREXIT - Withdrawal Agreement

    28 November 2018

    Dear Constituent,

    Thank you for writing to me.

    The duty of the Government was clear following of the referendum in 2016: the result had to be upheld – we had to leave the European Union – and our departure from and new relationship with the EU had to protect and promote our future prosperity.  After many months of hard negotiations, the Prime Minister has delivered such a deal.  The Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration allow for an orderly exit from the European Union and give us certainty and optimism about the future.  The deal protects citizens’ rights, protects our own Union, and means that we will have control of our borders, laws and money.  We will leave the Single Market, the Customs Union, the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy – becoming an independent coastal state.
    We will leave the EU on 29 March, the referendum result will have been upheld, but there will be a transition period during which we abide by EU rules before we move to our future relationship.  This gives business certainty in the medium term and only one change of rules and regulations in the long term.  Nevertheless, the Withdrawal Agreement explicitly states that: ‘it will be important for the United Kingdom to be able to take steps to prepare and establish new international arrangements of its own, including in areas of Union exclusive competence, provided such agreements do not enter into force or apply during that period’.
    The UK and the EU want to move through the transition period and into the future relationship; however, in order to guarantee that a hard border is not established between Northern Ireland and Ireland a so-called backstop had to be agreed which, should it be required, would create a single customs territory including the EU and the United Kingdom.  It was necessary to include this provision because, quite simply, the EU would not agree to any deal which did not include such a provision.  Concerns have been expressed about the backstop, particularly whether it would be temporary.  The Prime Minister addressed these concerns in the House following the November EU summit:
    ‘Both the UK and the EU are fully committed to having our future relationship in place by 1 January 2021, and the withdrawal agreement has a legal duty on both sides to use best endeavours to avoid the backstop ever coming into force. If, despite this, the future relationship is not ready by the end of 2020, we would not be forced to use the backstop. We would have a clear choice between the backstop or a short extension to the implementation period. If we did choose the backstop, the legal text is clear that it should be temporary and that the article 50 legal base cannot provide for a permanent relationship. And there is now more flexibility that it can be superseded either by the future relationship, or by alternative arrangements which include the potential for facilitative arrangements and technologies to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.’ (Hansard, 26 November 2018, Volume 650, Col. 24).
    The future relationship will include, as is set out in the Political Declaration: ‘A free trade area, combining deep regulatory and customs cooperation, underpinned by provisions ensuring a level playing field for open and fair competition… [and the] economic partnership should ensure no tariffs, fees, charges or quantitative restrictions across all sectors, with ambitious customs arrangements that, in line with the Parties' objectives and principles above, build and improve on the single customs territory provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement which obviates the need for checks on rules of origin.’
    It is a matter of trust that we uphold the result of the referendum and a matter of necessity that we give certainty to business and safeguard the future wellbeing of our people.  The Prime Minister has worked ceaselessly to deliver a deal which meets the needs of our time.  As a Member of Parliament I must do what I judge to be in the national interest.  The deal the Prime Minister has secured is in the national interest and she and it have my full support.
    Thank you again for writing to me.

    Yours sincerely,

    Mel Stride MP

    MP for Central Devon

    Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General