Firstly, I would like to clarify that the Prime Minister has been clear that the upmost priority and preferred exit is to leave with a deal, which I wholeheartedly back. I have voted in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement three times. I will continue to give my full support to efforts to secure a new deal, hopefully forthcoming at the EU Council on 17th – 18th October, and in the run-up to the EU Council there will be an opportunity for Parliament to both debate and vote on the issue after the outcome on October 21st and 22nd.
As you may be aware, every year there is a Conference Recess for around 5 weeks between September and October. This means that by ending the current Parliamentary session, there are only 4 less sitting days than normal.
The current parliamentary session is the longest session in almost 400 years. I agree with the Prime Minister that a ‘new, bold and ambitious’ domestic legislative agenda is necessary to ensure a bright future for the UK after we leave the European Union. As the Member of Parliament for Milton Keynes North for 14 years, I am fully aware of the problems we face locally combating crime, funding schools and the pressures facing our GP services and MK University Hospital. This new domestic legislative agenda will strive to tackle these key issues and look at cutting the cost of living.
In truth, too many of these pressing issues have been pushed aside as we prevaricate over Brexit three years later. Whilst I understand and share your concerns, we must respect that both the majority of the country and residents of Milton Keynes voted to leave. You will recall that I also promised as part of my manifesto commitment in the 2017 election to respect this decision. I do not believe it is the right of MPs to decide which public votes they get to respect.
This continued delay and uncertainty is deeply damaging to local businesses and employers. My preference remains to leave with a deal that protects my constituency. However, the indecision of the last three years cannot continue, and I am prepared to leave without a deal. Having been involved in no-deal planning myself as Minister, and with a total of £1.1 billion allocated to prepare for no deal, I know that the Government is preparing for all eventualities and I believe we can thrive in the medium and long-term.
It is time to leave the European Union as Milton Keynes and the country voted for and start tackling other issues of national and local importance through a new domestic legislative agenda.