South Suffolk MP confirms support for Prime Minister's Brexit deal, due to need for certainty for local businesses
The MP for South Suffolk says a parliamentary vote on the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal should not be postponed any longer, stating the uncertainty is damaging to local businesses of all sizes.
The House of Commons will vote on Theresa May’s deal with the European Union next week, having been previously delayed, as the Government feared it would lose.
James Cartlidge, who was among those to call for the original postponement, told the Free Press he now believes the vote must go ahead, claiming further delays will not be tolerated by MPs.
But he admitted the deal’s chances of gaining majority approval appear to be low.
His statements came as major local employer Philips Avent reiterated that the future of its factory in Glemsford, which employs around 500 people, will depend on maintaining frictionless trade with the EU.
Mr Cartlidge stated he feels time is running out to negotiate, and Parliament had to have its say, one way or the other.
“Clearly, the deal passing at present looks unlikely, but we cannot keep putting it off,” he said. “I will still be supporting the Prime Minister’s deal, but continue to hope for further changes to the back-stop.
“If the vote is lost, we should use that fact to prove definitively to the EU it is not going to be possible to pass the deal, without them yielding concrete change.
“I am profoundly concerned about the potential impact on political stability in general, if the vote is lost.
“But I do believe it is fair that one finds the view of Parliament, and then – if it is against the deal – seeks even at this late hour to amend the proposal, so it might pass at a second attempt.”
Mr Cartlidge said if the Prime Minister’s deal did pass through the Commons, the transition period, in which existing trading arrangements with the EU will remain the same for two years, would provide much-needed stability to businesses.
Philips Avent, one of the biggest employers in south Suffolk, has warned it is preparing for the worst-case scenario of a hard Brexit, including the possibility of having to relocate production to mainland Europe.
The firm said there is a very real risk that its baby care product manufacturing plant – based in Lower Road, Glemsford – would have to close, in the event that no deal is reached.
“The uninterrupted flow of goods is essential to both the EU and UK economies,” said a company spokesman.
“This must be frictionless as with a customs union.
“We need clarity and certainty, because time is running out. Uncertainty causes less investment.”
Mr Cartlidge echoed these sentiments, stating that investment is being put on hold and future prosperity is being damaged because of uncertainty surrounding the negotiation process.
“I entirely understand why Philips, one of South Suffolk’s largest employers and probably its most significant exporter, would be seeking much greater certainty,” he said.
“In short, if we get a deal, we will have certainty and frictionless trade.
“Without one, we will have neither, and that is not in the best interests of any firm in south Suffolk and not in the interests of my constituents.”
The MP added that he opposed the alternatives of a hard Brexit and a second referendum, arguing both outcomes would be “a complete anathema to the other side of the debate”.
He believes a “semi-detached, half-in half-out” compromise deal, like the one being voted on in Parliament, is the only credible answer, given how deeply divided the people of Britain are on the issue of Brexit.