March 2019 Brexit response

Thank you for taking the time to contact me to share your concerns with the current stages of Brexit negotiations.  I have received hundreds of emails weekly on this so I apologise for the delay in responding to you.  I would like to take this opportunity to clarify and make clear my position on the next stages of the negotiations.  
 
The losing of three of our colleagues has raised serious questions about our brand, our core mission and ownership of the very soul of our party which we must address. If we have any ambitions of winning support beyond our base we must remain a centre right, inclusive, vibrant and progressive party.
 
Brexit is of course now dominating the agenda and raising serious questions about how our brand is now perceived. Last week’s defections, which added to the increasing influence of the ERG, has helped to fuel the outside perception that the Tories are moving to the right.  Our electoral success comes from securing not just the right of centre support, but the middle ground too. However the ERG are acting as a block, taking advantage of parliamentary mathematics, which is now doing serious damage.
 
The ERG should recognise the real consequences of continuing to go against the Prime Minister.  They have argued for retaining ‘no deal’ as leverage in negotiations, with some actively encouraging this outcome.  Whatever the ‘no deal’ option might have served, its damaging impact on our economy, security and international reputation cannot be accepted.  With the impending article 50 deadline the ‘no deal’ option needs to be removed as the default consequence if the Prime Minister’s deal is not approved.
 
The Prime Minister may get the necessary concessions and legal agreements concerning the backstop, but, ultimately, the clock is ticking down. If we cannot get this deal across the line, we are facing the prospect of having to extend.  I strongly believe in honouring the referendum but if it is a choice between crashing out and getting the right deal, we must do the responsible thing and allow ourselves more time.
 
As representatives we have a duty to honour the referendum professionally and ensure our constituents are protected from the possibility of crashing out without a deal.  For this, I am very proud of the success of ‘Costa Amendment’ tabled by my colleague Alberto Costa MP.   This will require the Prime Minister to seek at the earliest opportunity a joint UK-EU commitment to adopt part two of the Withdrawal Agreement on citizens’ rights and to ensure of its implementation before we exit the European Union.   It is vital we do all we can at this uncertain time to ensure citizens can feel confident of their future.