This week, the Prime Minister triggered Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. The United Kingdom is formally leaving the European Union. Focus now turns to our terms for departure and the new relationship which we have to deliver with the 27 countries who will remain. It is essential that we put together a new deal, not try and retain membership by the back-door. This would not only be counter to the majority of voters but is likely to be a muddled mess.
On the Wednesday when Article 50 was triggered, I walked past Downing Street on my way to my office. Outside Number 10, a media wall was waiting. My thoughts took me to the thousands of people in this constituency who did not vote for this to happen. They were in the minority of voters but their disappointment needs representing. There has been a fair degree of gloating around Parliament and this does not strike me as the best way to sooth the fears of those who are genuinely concerned.
I was therefore pleased that the tone of the Prime Minister in the chamber on Wednesday was focussed on building a new relationship with the European Union which all of us, regardless of how we voted, can share in and be proud of. In the Article 50 letter, the Prime Minister not only delivered the legal formalities but spoke directly of building a deep and special partnership which we hope to enjoy as the closest friend and neighbour to the European Union. Elsewhere, the Prime Minister wrote of her desire to ensure that the UK leaves the EU with all of the existing EU legislation on our statute book. This is a process which the Commons’ Procedure Committee, of which I am a member, will be heavily involved in defining. This demonstrates that we will leave the EU in an orderly manner. Yes, we may then choose to repeal certain EU legislation but it will not be on day one. The Prime Minister went on to set out the hope that we can negotiate a new deal with the EU at the same time as negotiating our departure and set out some principles for discussions which would be discussed in the name of respect and cooperation. These principles touched on giving citizens from the EU and the UK certainty of status; minimising disruption and uncertainty to business and individuals; delivering enduring peace on the Irish border; prioritising the biggest challenges and preserving shared values of peace and democracy.
In giving an honest appraisal of the tasks ahead, the Prime Minister has, I hope, given comfort to those who are concerned about change whilst delivering the mandate from the majority of voters brought it about. In stating that ‘this is a day of celebration for some and disappointment for others’, the Prime Minister has elsewhere sought to bring both sides together as one in order for us to deliver our common interest of making a success of this nation for generations to come.