Why I cannot support May’s Brexit deal

Priti Patel

November 17, 2018

The withdrawal agreement that the cabinet has approved does not deliver the outcome of the EU referendum. It goes against the 2017 Conservative Party manifesto and the numerous promises made by the prime minister in her Lancaster House and Florence speeches. 17.4 million people voted to leave the EU and take back control in the biggest show of democracy this country has ever seen. But negotiators from the UK and the EU have now run roughshod over their views and the referendum result.

Back in December last year when the backstop was first agreed, the government set a strategy which led to the Chequers proposal and then to the withdrawal agreement being negotiated. Despite being forewarned of the grave misgivings held across the country, the government continued to pursue this strategy. And now the collective actions of the government have left the country with the bitter taste of betrayal.

Having read the withdrawal agreement in detail and having taken legal advice, it is clear to me that our country is now in a position where, instead of leaving the EU and taking back control, we face being indefinitely chained to Brussels. It is quite clear that the withdrawal agreement keeps the UK bound to EU rules and laws indefinitely, as well as being locked in the customs union. Our parliament will not be in control of our laws, and we will be explicitly excluded from any opportunities to influence laws the EU imposes on our country. We will be a rule taker with no seat at the table when those rules are made.

The agreement forces the UK to seek the permission and consent of the EU to negotiate and agree on new trade agreements and treaties with other countries. It also demands that the UK does not act in any way that the EU feels is prejudicial to them – effectively giving the EU a veto over our foreign policy. Instead of being free to take our place at the World Trade Organisation and make our own way in the world, the EU remains able to issue demands to us and impose its will on our country.

The agreement leaves us with no control over our borders, with the EU’s free movement rules still applying. Likewise, the agreement keeps the door open for the EU to take more hardworking taxpayers’ money, while there is no guarantee that we will get a comprehensive free trade deal in exchange for the £39bn divorce settlement.

Of grave concern is the way the agreement leaves our union in a fragile state, with Northern Ireland treated differently. The protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland leaves the UK unable to unilaterally leave its arrangements without the permission of the EU. It puts our precious union at risk, something which a member of the Conservative and Unionist Party should never contemplate.

On top of this, the withdrawal agreement provides the European Court of Justice with the powers to continue determining our laws even beyond the transition period. The court will also serve as the final enforcer of the agreement, meaning that the EU can continue to impose its will on us and its jurisdiction continues to apply to this country.

Under the agreement, Britain surrenders its freedom, sovereignty and place in the world, and will be firmly under the control of the EU. This is not what the country voted for, and it is not in our nation’s best interests.

The British people voted in 2016 to take back control of our borders, money and laws. They chose a bright future as a free, independent and sovereign country. But this agreement lets the EU carrying on controlling our borders, money and laws for many years to come. Our destiny will not be in own our hands – the EU will be the author of our future. No self-respecting nation would accept the terms of this withdrawal agreement. I cannot support the withdrawal agreement, and I will be voting against it.


Written by Priti Patel

Priti Patel is the Conservative MP for Witham and home secretary.


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