PM only just hanging on as ministers quit after Brexit deal
Column by Nick Boles, MP for Grantham
To lose one Brexit Secretary may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness. The Prime Minister has agreed a Brexit deal but she has lost Dominic Raab and Esther McVey. She survives – but only just.
It’s not hard to find fault with the deal. It will give us less control over the rules that govern our economy than membership of the EU. But it will deliver the core of what people voted for: the UK’s exit from the political institutions of the EU. It will also preserve close alignment with most of the Single Market and the customs union – and that is what matters most for British businesses.
For this reason – and because I cannot under any circumstances countenance Brexit with no deal – I will vote for the Withdrawal Agreement if it reaches the Commons. It is not obvious it will win. The ‘meaningful vote’ is a very narrow needle. It will take a miracle for Theresa May to thread it.
That’s why I have been working with MPs from all parties to put together a workable Plan. We propose to keep the Withdrawal Agreement in almost all respects but to write a new Political Declaration about our future relationship. At the end of the transition, the UK would move into the European Free Trade Association and stay in the European Economic Area, the common market that binds the economies of the EU with the economies of three of the four EFTA states. We would also maintain our current customs arrangements, until we agree new arrangements to maintain frictionless trade and no hard border in Ireland.
We would no longer be caught up in the EU’s drive towards ever closer union. We would have the right to be consulted about any new Single Market regulations. We would leave the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and be bound instead by the EFTA Court which respects parliamentary sovereignty. We would no longer be part of the Common Agricultural Policy or Common Fisheries Policy. Although freedom of movement would still apply, we would acquire the power to exercise an emergency break.
As members of Europe’s common market but outside the European Union, the UK can rediscover its natural destiny as Europe’s greatest ally and closest friend.