North East MPs set to vote against deal


The Chronicle - - News - JONATHAN WALKER

Po­lit­i­cal Edi­tor

JUST ONE North East MP has said they will vote for Theresa May’s pro­posed Brexit deal.

Guy Op­per­man, the MP for Hex­ham in Northum­ber­land, says he plans to back the Prime Min­is­ter when the House of Com­mons holds its his­toric vote to­mor­row.

West­min­ster in­sid­ers pre­dict the Prime Min­is­ter is head­ing for a dev­as­tat­ing de­feat when MPs vote on her Brexit With­drawal Agree­ment.

The orig­i­nal vote sched­uled for De­cem­ber 11 was de­layed. Mrs May later ad­mit­ted she knew she would lose and vowed to go back to Brus­sels to de­mand a bet­ter deal.

Ahead of the orig­i­nal vote, we asked all the North East MPs how they in­tended to vote.

Even two Con­ser­va­tive MPs in the re­gion – Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Ber­wick, and Si­mon Clarke, MP for Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East – said they were op­pos­ing the With­drawal Agree­ment.

And the re­gion’s Labour MPs are more or less united in op­po­si­tion – al­though a few, such as Houghton and Sun­der­land South MP Brid­get Phillip­son, say they might be per­suaded to back Mrs May if she agrees to hold a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum on Brexit, or a so-called Peo­ple’s Vote.

Mrs May has in­sisted she has no in­ten­tion of do­ing this.

Mr Op­per­man claimed that col­leagues who fail to back the Prime Min­is­ter are putting the econ­omy at risk.

He said: “The deal is a prag­matic res­o­lu­tion that de­liv­ers on the re­sult of the ref­er­en­dum and stops un­lim­ited im­mi­gra­tion. But it also pre­serves our econ­omy and sup­ports jobs.

“The al­ter­na­tives are not at­trac­tive.

“The MPs who call for a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum are propos­ing a 3-4 ques­tion mul­ti­ple choice sec­ond bal­lot. It is ut­terly un­work­able. And will be very dis­rup­tive to our democ­racy.

“There are also clear risks of an eco­nomic down­turn with ex­it­ing on a no deal. I would urge col­leagues to back the deal.”

It’s un­clear what will hap­pen if the Com­mons re­jects the agree­ment.

Pos­si­bil­i­ties in­clude a gen­eral elec­tion, which could be held if two thirds of MPs vote for one.

An elec­tion would also prob­a­bly take place if the Com­mons passed a mo­tion of “no con­fi­dence” in the Gov­ern­ment, which re­quires a sim­ple ma­jor­ity.

Other op­tions in­clude hold­ing a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum. The num­ber of MPs back­ing this op­tion has grown, but it’s far from cer­tain that a ma­jor­ity of MPs would sup­port this.

Al­ter­na­tively, it’s pos­si­ble that Mrs May could re­turn to the EU and at­tempt to re-open ne­go­ti­a­tions.

And as things stand, the UK is set to leave the EU on March 29, 2019, whether a deal is agreed or not (thanks to leg­is­la­tion ap­proved by Labour as well as Tory MPs in 2017).

It means a ‘no-deal’ Brexit is pos­si­ble.

Gov­ern­ment anal­y­sis pub­lished in Novem­ber showed that the North East will be poorer un­der Mrs May’s pro­posed Brexit deal than if we stayed in the EU, with the econ­omy up to 2% smaller.

The fig­ures don’t take into ac­count the pos­si­ble im­pact of a huge cut in mi­gra­tion to the UK from Europe, which would do more dam­age to the econ­omy.

But leav­ing the EU with­out a deal

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