26 NOV 2018

UPDATED Statement from Therese on the EU Withdrawal Agreement


I have received a large amount of correspondence regarding Brexit in the last week, offering a variety of opinions on what we should do next as a country and how I should vote in Parliament. I have already voted for Article 50 so that the UK will be leaving the EU on 29th March 2019.

There will not be a second referendum. The 2016 referendum vote was close but decisive, with over 72% of the population expressing a view. That is the highest turnout of voters in nearly 25 years.

I think there has been a HUGE misunderstanding about the withdrawal agreement published last week. It is NOT the future trade deal. It is the legal text proposed for the Withdrawal Agreement that sets out a detailed process on leaving the EU and the operational rules for how the implementation or transition period will work in practice. Yes, it contains the so-called backstop on Northern Ireland and it has a new option where we could extend the transition period if we have not agreed the new future trade deal by 2020, rather than use the backstop.

Why have this transition period at all? I know some people would prefer to have no deal at all with the EU or think that we should negotiate without this transition period. I do not understand the logic of not wanting a deal, when the EU market is our largest single trading partner, yet we want to sign deals with other nations. In a no-deal situation, we would move to a system where we have tariffs and border checks which will undoubtedly be disruptive. If we do want a deal, I think we should seek to minimise business disruption and its potential impact on jobs, by unnecessarily changing rules or processes more than once.

The leaders of the nations of the European Union have agreed to the withdrawal agreement and the more detailed political declaration. It is clearly in the best interests of both sides to do what we can to avoid using the backstop and even extending the transition period should not be necessary as we have already significant progress on the principles for a future trade deal. This continues to be the key document on which we must now put our full efforts. This deal will mean we take back control of our borders, our laws and our money while protecting jobs, security and the integrity of the United Kingdom.

We have already agreed the future deal will include the end of freedom of movement, the end of the European Court of Justice having jurisdiction, the freedom to negotiate our own trade deals with other countries around the world, zero tariffs in a free trade area for goods, the UK as an independent coastal state on fisheries and no longer part of the Common Fisheries or Agricultural Policies. Meanwhile, we have already committed as a government to uphold standards on rights for workers, the environment and EU citizens. This future deal will deliver the referendum outcome AND our own domestic priorities.

I will continue to support the Prime Minister, Theresa May, who is handling one of the most challenging and complex negotiations any PM has had to face. Her leadership and resilience are key to securing that comprehensive future trade deal.

23 NOV 2018

Parliament Supports Second Reading of the Fisheries Bill

This week in Parliament MPs debated the second reading of The Fisheries Bill, which sets out our plans to leave the Common Fisheries Policy and take back control of our waters.

The new legislation will enable the UK Government to set annual total allowable catches for UK waters as well as have the flexibility to negotiate with other countries to ensure stocks are fished sustainably.

Therese said: "As a coastal MP and Environment Minister, I was really pleased to support this new legislation which is great news for our fishing communities along the Suffolk Coast. This Government has always supported the interests of British fishermen, which is why we have increased the quota given to our under-10m fleet by 13% in the last 6 years - and this new legislation will enable us to have far greater control over fishing quotas."

Therese added: "Ultimately, the new Bill will allow us to create a sustainable, profitable fishing industry for the UK."

22 NOV 2018

Peoples Vote

Thank you for contacting me regarding leaving the European Union and the suggestion for a further referendum.

I understand your strength of feeling on this matter but there has already been a referendum, the UK is leaving the EU next year and there will not be another referendum. When a decision of constitutional significance is made, it is important that democratic processes are followed. That is why Parliament gave the British people the final say on the UK's membership of the EU and why the result must be respected, even if you disagree with it.

The ballot paper presented voters with an unambiguous choice to remain in the EU or to leave. The consequences of either decision were communicated by campaign groups through a variety of print, audio-visual and digital media. The Government also sent a document to every household in the UK on the benefits of staying in the EU.

As in every election, it was up to the electorate to judge the merits of the different arguments and over 17.4 million voters decided to leave the EU. Both main political parties also pledged in their manifestos at the General Election 2017 to respect the EU referendum result and these parties received over 80% of the vote.

MPs from across the political spectrum voted 494 to 122 in favour of invoking Article 50 in 2017. The exit negotiations are now well under way and I am confident that an agreement will be reached to the mutual benefit of the both the UK and the EU. MPs will vote on the deal when it comes to Parliament.

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E-mail: therese.coffey.mp@parliament.uk

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