Below is the letter I sent to all South West Conservative MPs on Friday, 7 December ahead of the important vote scheduled for 11 December. This is based on the deal as it stands today.
Dear South West MP
Your political decision on 11th December will determine the future of our country for decades to come. Though I am no longer able to contact you as a colleague in the Party, I hope you will receive my concerns – from Brussels – in the collegiate and cordial way they are intended. Whichever Lobby you decide to take next week, it will be a defining moment for Great Britain, and it is on that basis that I offer some thoughts from Brussels, which I hope will be of interest to you.
I believe the Withdrawal Agreement will leave the UK in a vulnerable position, as is made clear in the Attorney General’s legal opinion; a democratically dubious limbo before the critical second part of the negotiations have even begun. Whatever position representatives take on the European Union, it is surely a mistake to bind the national future to the theoretical goodwill of a sparse and hastily assembled ‘Political Declaration’. A document essentially designed to buy more time offers no inducement to European partners to cooperate, and will have practical implications the public will deeply resent.
It is strikingly clear that the Withdrawal Agreement will maintain the decisions of European Institutions while removing our presence within them completely. This is a deeply objectionable situation made all the worse by a current public focus on the role of democracy in their lives. It is bitterly ironic that some of the most effective arguments used to win the referendum have actually been compounded and exacerbated by the Withdrawal Agreement; a situation that will not be lost on the electorate or forgiven.
Under the Withdrawal Agreement, the constitutional integrity of the UK is itself in question, but the issue is not a solitary one. It is deeply concerning that the role of European law, so vilified domestically, shows no sign of abating when our country ‘takes back control’. The Polydor case has long established that provisions in EU treaties and international agreements do not mean an axiomatic uniformity of interpretation. An issue that should be politically feasible – the rights of UK citizens in Europe – is made infinitely more difficult. Rights conferred to British Citizens will require the adoption, in letter and spirit, of the acquis. It is wrong to suggest a reciprocal agreement can be reached with the EU when each Member State will decide the process and conditions British nationals must satisfy. It is an imbalance found throughout the published documents. What is more, a free trade agreement does not entail a similarity of objectives nor does it provide a guarantee for identical interpretation, leaving our country at a disadvantage again.
It is clear to me that the Withdrawal Agreement leaves Great Britain in a much diminished and vulnerable situation. From the constitutional make-up of the Nation to citizens’ rights and the probable role of European law, the deal fails by the Government’s own standards.
I hope the above has given you pause for thought and you can understand my need to convey this message to you.
With kind regards
As we all know the situation is very fluid, changing on a daily, even hourly basis and I will endeavour to keep you informed of developments.