Why I decided to send my no-confidence letter
Seventeen point four million people voted to leave the European Union. We can be reasonably confident that very few of them did so in the hope or expectation that we would end up with anything like the deal that the Prime Minister has done with the EU.
In effect, Britain would remain in the EU, but without having any say. Had that been the choice, I personally would have voted to Remain. The withdrawal agreement we have been presented with is unacceptable to Leave and Remain voters alike.
It has close to zero chance of making it through Parliament and with only five months remaining, we cannot afford to waste any more time on it. It is theoretically possible that during the proposed transition period both sides could agree a comprehensive free trade agreement and thereby avoid the so-called backstop. But that is unlikely. The backstop suits the EU far better than it suits the UK.
It would bind us to the status quo – requiring us to pay large annual sums to Brussels, effectively subjecting us to customs union and single market rules, with no UK say in framing those rules – and it would divide Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. There is little incentive for the EU to negotiate in good faith.
In those circumstances, the backstop would likely become the long-term arrangement. Indeed, in his resignation letter, Dom Raab made it clear that the backstop “is now also taken as the starting point for negotiating the Future Economic Partnership”. That is not acceptable.
The notion that the choice is between this deal, no deal or no Brexit is a false one. That is what the EU wants us to believe. There is time to do a deal that will suit both sides better than no deal and to bring forward the option that Brussels has long been expecting – and that makes most sense for the fifth biggest economy in the world. That would be a SuperCanadastyle free trade agreement. But there is no time to lose.
The Prime Minister has been clear that she will not change course, and so with huge reluctance, I have submitted a letter to the 1922 Committee urging a vote that will, I hope, give us the chance of a fresh start.
Zac Goldsmith is the Conservative MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston Richmond Park & North Kingston Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland