North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale says he will back Prime Minister Teresa May on today’s (January 14) meaningful vote over Brexit.
MPs will start voting at 7pm, after five days of debate, over whether to back the PM’s deal for leaving the European Union.
Sir Roger says a withdrawal deal will allow for negotiation.
He said: “I signed what has become known as the “No Deal” letter because I do not believe that a “No Deal” Brexit is either in the long-term economic and security interests of those that I represent and neither –judging from my mailbag – represent the expressed wish of even most of those who voted to Leave.
“I accept that there are some hard-line Brexiteers that would welcome a “cliff edge” exit but that does not appear to reflect the view of the majority that want a clean but negotiated departure from the European Union.
“As a Member of Parliament I am not mandated: I am elected to exercise my judgement in the light of the knowledge and facts that are available to me and I shall continue to do precisely that.
“At present I am concentrating all of my efforts on seeking to secure support for the Withdrawal Agreement -and if I was seeking to remain I would not be voting to leave – as a paving measure that will then allow us to negotiate the trade and other relationships with our former EU partners that still have to be struck. I do not propose to be distracted from that purpose.
“If and when- but only when – it becomes apparent, following the “meaningful vote” that the House is not prepared to support the Withdrawal Agreement – and logically all of those Labour, Liberal, Green, SNP and Tory members who signed the “No Deal” letter should vote for the deal on offer – then other considerations will come into play.
“What I will not do is back any arrangement that I believe will leave the Country that I have been proud to serve for much of my life weaker either economically or in terms of security. It would not be my generation that would pay the price for such folly but those of our children and grandchildren and that is not a price that I am prepared to condone or support.”
The withdrawal agreement is in preparation for the UK’s exit from the European Union on March 29. Fears of a no-deal Brexit have prompted emergency plans, in Thanet these include government funding for extra ferry capacity if a Ramsgate/Ostend route is established by Seaborne Freight and proposals for lorry parking at the Manston airport site to ease congestion at Dover port.
South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay is expected to oppose the deal as it stands. He recently said of the Brexit deal preparations:”We hear much, often with a negative overtone, when ‘no-deal Brexit’ is discussed. Leaving cleanly and trading on World Trade Organisation terms would have short-term lumps and bumps, but this type of arrangement is merely an international normality.
“It is a ‘deal’ and a well-recognised one. We’d be saving the £39Bn offered up as a divorce settlement, protecting the Union and put ourselves in the driving seat to conclude new international trade deals.
“An ambitious Free Trade Agreement, on the lines of the Canada deal, will in my view deliver the referendum result, keeps relations with the EU on a friendly and professional basis and is the way forwards as we re-establish ourselves as a new Global Britain.”
Thanet Liberal Democrat spokesperson Angie Curwen says a ‘botched Brexit’ will leave people poorer and has called for MPs to give the public the final say on the deal.
She said: “Theresa May’s deal is bad for the NHS, bad for British jobs and leaves the UK a rule taker not a rule maker. It is a deal nobody voted for and nobody wants.
“If Roger Gale and Craig Mackinlay cannot look their constituents in the eye and say this botched deal will make them better off, they must back the Liberal Democrats and vote this deal down.”
“Liberal Democrats demand better. The only escape from this Tory mess is to give the people the final say on the deal, including the option to remain in the EU.”
A huge rally in London last October 20 attracted some 700,000 campaigners demanding a new referendum on the final Brexit deal.
The People’s Vote march started at Park Lane for the rally to Parliament Square. Campaigners, including people from Thanet such as Labour’s district councillor hopeful Rob Yates, said there were fears that the UK would exit the EU with no deal and concerns over what this will mean for issues including imports and exports, travel and the NHS. There are also concerns over physical border checks between the country and Ireland as a result of the exit.
Political pundits are predicting the PM will suffer defeat in the vote.