As I write this column in my Crawley office following Thursday’s European Council meeting in Brussels, a number of different dates are being reported for an extension to the Treaty of Lisbon Article 50 withdrawal process, which would delay our leaving the EU. Let me be clear, I oppose any extension to the UK leaving this coming Friday.
Over the last couple of years the Prime Minister has said 108 times that we will be leaving on 29th March 2019 – this must be honoured for the sake of trust in our democracy.
My position is that this date, set out in law by the EU Withdrawal Act which was passed by Parliament last year – must be the moment of our withdrawal. It is not in anyone’s interests for the uncertainty to continue.
Leaving with a good deal is preferable to leaving with none, however after considering the advice of the Attorney General, I remain concerned with the Prime Minister’s deal with the EU because it would actually give over control, not take sovereignty back.
Like 588 other Members of Parliament, I stood on a manifesto promise at the last General Election to get on and deliver Brexit.
Over the last week I spoke on three occasions in the House of Commons relating to our departure from the bloc. I questioned the Brexit Minister over ensuring the Commons has sufficient debate on the issue of any Article 50 extension.
I also questioned the Government over how ministers will continue to be held to account once the UK has left the EU, and received assurances over the aviation agreements which are in place – flights will continue from Gatwick and other UK airports on Brexit, indeed the number of destinations flown is increasing later this year.
Brexit is not the only issue taking place. I continue to raise matters such as more support for our police and how the NHS will be spending the extra £394 million each week it will receive in the coming years.
It is time for the people’s Brexit to be carried out.
Henry Smith MP