Brexit Update

29th March 2019

Commenting on the latest Brexit situation Henry has said: “Once again I voted for the Prime Minister’s Agreement, because although it is far from perfect, it does at least deliver a legal Brexit, and honours the Referendum result. I deeply regret that it failed to secure a majority, and I am particularly sad that over 20 of my colleagues and the 10 DUP MP’s voted against it. Had the House passed the Agreement, a huge amount of uncertainty facing businesses in West Norfolk would have been lifted, and we would have definitely avoided having to run the Euro elections in May.”

“I understand that the DUP and the so-called ERG ultras came quite close to voting for it, so my very strong advice to the PM and her team is to return to Brussels next week and try again to secure some further legal reassurances on the Backstop. The alternative is either a No-Deal Brexit or a very long extension with U.K. participation in the EU elections neither of these options are likely to appeal to Brussels.”

 

20th March 2019

Commenting on the latest Brexit situation Henry said: “As someone who has voted twice for the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement, on the basis this is the best way of delivering both the referendum and my own pledges to my electorate, I am personally very sad that the Withdrawal Agreement has not gone through.”  

“Over the past few weeks I have been absolutely inundated with requests from both individuals and businesses alike to just get on and lift the uncertainty. Most people I meet recognise the Deal is far from perfect, but it very definitely does deliver a legal Brexit, and as much as anything else is a stepping stone to moving ahead with the vital trade negotiations. After all, this is what is going to determine our future relationship with the EU.” 

“My current prediction is now that the House of Commons has voted overwhelmingly against both a no-deal Brexit, and even more overwhelmingly against a second referendum, MPs will be left with a binary choice of either supporting the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement, or probably losing Brexit altogether. Obviously, I personally regret the fact that it now looks most unlikely we will be leaving on the 29th March, because we have just heard that the Prime Minister has requested a short extension until 30th June. I would be very surprised if this is not granted. Indeed, the last thing the EU wants is for us to have to go through with the forthcoming EU elections.” 

 

12th March 2019

On the day of the crucial Meaningful Vote Henry said he was now a lot more comfortable about the legal safeguards attached to the Northern Ireland Backstop.

Commenting Henry said: “Indeed, the Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox QC MP, has let it been known that the very recent changes that have been made to the Backstop are very welcome. Although I have personally taken the view for some time that the Withdrawal Agreement was worthy of support in its own right, nevertheless I can absolutely understand why a large number of my colleagues took a different view, on account of the fact they were understandably very worried about the UK being completely locked in with no possible escape.”

Henry went on to say that: “If our Parliamentary Partners the DUP are prepared to come on side in tonight’s vote then I would predict that the Prime Minister will get the Agreement over the line. This would be one almighty relief for the many businesses in my constituency, who have been pushing me to support the Agreement so that we can get on and negotiate the key Free Trade Agreement, and for all those constituents who voted leave and just want the Agreement sealed so we can legally leave the EU.”

“Finally, I have always been an optimist and a glass half full person. I am also a realist and a pragmatist, and although this deal is not perfect, it does now have extra safeguards – that is why I am imploring my colleagues to support it.”

 

21st February 2019

Henry has praised the Prime Minister, the Attorney General and the Brexit Secretary for their determination to try and find a compromise on the Backstop which would ensure the Withdrawal Agreement gets through Parliament.

Commenting Henry said: “The overwhelming view of the Conservative Parliamentary Party is that the Withdrawal Agreement itself is fit for purpose, and above all it acts as a “bridge” to the absolutely vital trade negotiations. However, the Backstop as it is currently configured does leave a huge amount to be desired because it is open ended, and it could in theory, tie us into the EU for an indefinite period. I can quite understand why so many of my Parliamentary colleagues find this unacceptable - above all because it could seriously undermine our negotiating position during the future trade talks. This is why it is essential we get in place some legal protocols that either set a definite deadline, or alternatively, give the UK a mechanism for withdrawing from it.”

“Given all the other problems the EU faces, not least the massive financial challenges in Italy, the falling growth in Germany, the refugee crisis in Eastern Europe and the ongoing riots in France it really is in everyone’s interest to get the Brexit deal through. There is no doubt about the fact a no-deal Brexit would cause short term disruption and dislocation both in the UK and across Europe. This is why every effort must be made to try and avoid it. However, I do believe the Government is quite right to not rule it out at this stage because this would undermine our negotiating position.”

“Over the past few weeks I have received numerous representations from local businesses who are incredibly keen to see an end to the uncertainty. All in all, I am very optimistic that there will be the necessary changes made to the Backstop which will in turn be approved by the Attorney General. Hopefully this will then give a great deal of comfort to our DUP partners from Northern Ireland, and if they can support it then it would be my fervent hope every single Conservative MP would get behind it. At the same time I would expect a significant number of Labour MPs from “leave leaning” constituencies to also support it.”

“Finally, I do believe we owe it to the electorate to now deliver on our promise to implement the referendum result.”

 

30th January 2019

Commenting on the latest Brexit developments Henry said: “Of course, it is truly excellent news the House of Commons backed Graham Brady’s Amendment. The EU have been saying for some time now “please tell us what you want” now the Prime Minister can go back to Brussels and make it very clear that there is no majority for the backstop in its current form. However with a few small legal changes, it is likely it would get through Parliament, and we could then depart with an orderly transition.”

“A lot of people are speculating that the EU simply will not budge, but my advice is it is important to look not at the current grandstanding that we are now hearing, but rather at the history of EU negotiations. This is because they always allow negotiations such as this one to go to the wire.”

 

18th January 2019

Commenting on the latest Brexit developments Henry said: “As I am sure my constituents are aware, I voted for the Prime Minister’s Agreement on Tuesday night and it certainly was not that surprising that it was defeated by a large margin.”

“Having canvassed the opinion of many colleagues, I do believe that it would not take a great deal of movement on the backstop to persuade them to support the Agreement. I have also spoken to a number of DUP MPs, and they take a similar line.”

“This is why my own strong advice to the Prime Minister, who is in a much stronger position now she has won the confidence vote, is to say to the EU that her own position is secure and that Parliament have voted strongly against the deal. I think it is then very likely that Brussels will offer some sort of concession on the backstop.”

 

10th January 2019

Henry Bellingham MP has said that he is still strongly supportive of the Prime Minister’s Agreement and will vote for it on Tuesday 15th January.

Henry is hoping to a make a speech on the 14th January and as a prelude he has said: “Whilst not perfect the Prime Minister’s Agreement does get us over the line legally, and I am also very confident she will be able to secure some further concessions from the EU on the Backstop. My hope is this will be enough to secure the support of the DUP.”

“Whilst I can quite understand why some constituents take the view that the Agreement is completely unacceptable in principle, the grave concerns I have is if we do not accept the Prime Minister’s deal then there is a real chance we could lose Brexit completely. I personally do not have a problem with a “no-deal WTO Brexit”, because although there would be significant short term disruption, Britain has had to cope with far worse in the past and made a success of it. The problem lies with huge Parliamentary opposition to a no-deal Brexit, and we could well end up with a complete standoff between the Government and Parliament. This could well then lead to an early election, and if we had a Labour Government as a result of this they might abandon Brexit altogether.”

Henry went on to say: “The other option being suggested is a second referendum. My view is that this would be unbelievably divisive, and apart from anything else no one has been able to decide on what the question would be. Indeed, I am very fearful that a second referendum would completely destroy and undermine trust between the electorate and politicians.”

“I also despair at the attempts by some of my Parliamentary colleagues to both undermine the Government and publicly sabotage preparations for a no-deal Brexit. The bottom line is if we do not prepare properly for a no-deal Brexit there is little chance of the EU taking us seriously.”

 

11th December 2018

Henry Bellingham MP for North West Norfolk has welcomed the Prime Minister’s decision to postpone the vital vote on the Withdrawal Agreement.

Commenting Henry said: “After three days of debate in the House of Commons it was fast becoming perfectly obvious that the Government were going to lose badly. In these circumstances it made no sense whatsoever for the Government to push on regardless. In many ways the Prime Minister was brave to take this decision and resolve to try and secure further concessions from Brussels on the issue of the backstop.”

Henry has now committed to supporting the Prime Minister’s deal; although he has said this is with a “heavy heart” because of his concerns over the backstop.

Henry went onto say: “The other reason why I am inclined to support the Prime Minister is on account of the fact that voting down this deal could well result in Brexit being lost altogether.”

“I now expect the Prime Minister will be working flat out with both her EU counterparts and the Commission – with a view to securing some significant concessions on the backstop. I expect the Prime Minister will bring the deal back to the House in a few weeks’ time. Personally I am reasonably optimistic that she will be able to then get it through Parliament.”

“The majority of emails and letters coming through to me are supportive of the Prime Minister’s stance – indeed phrases such as “her courage and perseverance” keep occurring. Nevertheless, there is a significant minority of constituents who are either pressing for a straight forward no-deal Brexit on the one hand, or a second referendum on the other. On the former, whilst I have no doubt at all about the fact that the UK could both survive and progress in the medium term with a no-deal Brexit, it would lead to significant uncertainty and disruption. I have to be completely frank with people when I say this could easily lead to some postponed investment and job losses in our region.”

“As far as a second referendum is concerned, some people are calling for a so called “People’s Vote”- surely this is what we had in 2016? Even though the then Prime Minister and his Chancellor made dramatic predictions about recession, job losses and general disaster, and even though the Remain campaign was far better resourced then the Leave side, the latter still won. Furthermore, 82% of MPs, including every Conservative and Labour MP, campaigned at the last General Election on a platform of honouring the referendum result. This is why Parliament has a duty to implement the result rather than voting for a second referendum – which would plunge this country into even more uncertainty and turmoil. Furthermore, most of the people pushing for a second referendum were originally prepared to accept the outcome, but were also pushing for a so called soft Brexit with a long transition period and protections for jobs and investment. Is it not ironic that this is what Theresa May’s Agreement does. So I would respectfully suggest people reflect on this.”

 

3rd December 2018

Commenting on the latest Brexit developments Henry said: “The upcoming vote on the Withdrawal Agreement is not a binary choice. Indeed, if we vote it down then there is no guarantee we will move into no-deal territory; for the simple reason the House of Commons would vote strongly against this. There is every possibility we could be faced with a Constitutional crisis, see Article 50 extended, see the EU elections going ahead and then possibly loose Brexit altogether.”

“Before taking a final decision on how to vote on the Withdrawal Agreement, I want to get up to speed with the key legal and practical points regarding the reality of all possible scenarios. I do want to examine very carefully the issues around money, citizenship, the City, trade and customs and data. This is why I am currently examining the smaller details of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration. I am also looking at the bigger political picture and I am determined to make sure that I help deliver Brexit for a Constituency that voted overwhelmingly for Leave.”

 

15th November 2018 

Commenting on the latest Brexit developments Henry said: "As you know I voted for Brexit and obviously our constituency had one of the strongest leave votes in the country."

"My priority is to complete Brexit and deliver on the result of the referendum. However, given that it took us ten years to come into Europe, and given that we have been a member for nearly 40 years, and during this period we have become ever more integrated into it, it was never realistic to expect a clean Brexit in one go."

"Is the current deal being proposed by the Prime Minister perfect? Emphatically not, but it is in my opinion a bridge to a clean and genuine Brexit in the future once we have completely regained our sovereignty."

"I am currently reading the very large number of documents published by the Government, and I would certainly urge everyone to look incredibly carefully at some of the detail in the agreement because much of it is incredibly positive and delivers on our promises to regain sovereignty, control migration, exit the Common Fisheries Policy and Common Agricultural Policy and enable us to strike trade treaties with third countries. Of course, the bit none of us like is the Northern Ireland backstop which could in theory carry on for many years as we do not have under the agreement a proper mechanism for terminating it. However, the backstop will only be necessary if we fail to sign a trade treaty during the transition. It is certainly ironic that all of the resignations so far have been about a totally theoretical scenario" 

"As a pragmatist and a realist I do take the view that this is the best deal we are likely to get and it is one I can personally live with. It does deliver on Brexit and if we do not take it then we really do run the risk of losing Brexit completely." 

"One final point, once we have actually left the EU we will then once again have control of our sovereign powers, and yes this does give us the opportunity to secure numerous changes and amendments in the future."

 

24th October 2018

Commenting on the current status of the Brexit negotiations Henry said: “My absolute key priority is to get Brexit over the line so we actually have an agreement that can get through Parliament. What in my mind would be a complete catastrophe is the Government losing the vote on Brexit and then running the risk of another General Election which could be won by Jeremy Corbyn. This could easily result in us loosing Brexit altogether.”

“I would appeal to my colleagues who have been somewhat outspoken recently to think of the national interest, because unless we are united as a party we are unlikely to secure a positive deal. As the Prime Minister has recently made clear to Parliament a huge amount of the details have been agreed and we are now 95% of the way there. From the correspondence I have received the overwhelming view of my constituents and indeed local businesses is that we need to see this through and secure a mutually beneficial deal.”

Henry went on to say: “I fervently hope that the current Brexit negotiations will lead to a successful outcome. I am personally very confident that there will be a deal on the Withdrawal Agreement by the end of the year; this will mean we can then start to negotiate the bilateral free trade agreement which is crucial to our local exporters.”

 

10th July 2018

Henry said that he broadly supported the Prime Minister’s recent declaration on Brexit, commenting on it Henry stated: “Whilst it is highly regrettable the David Davis and Boris Johnson  resigned, nevertheless, they are both men of honour and principle and felt they could not go along with a proposal which they could not put their hearts into. I fully understand this reaction because the deal put forward is far from ideal, and it goes further than many of us had hoped as far as the commitment to retain equivalence with the European Union on all standards for manufactured and agri-goods. As the Prime Minister herself admitted this will adversely impact our ability to sign independent trade treaties with third countries. However, it is most encouraging that the Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, has supported the Government and has made it clear that he believes the United Kingdom will still be able to deliver an independent trade policy. As he recently said “The UK will have its own its own seat at the WTO, be able to set tariffs to for our trade with the rest of the world, and have the ability to secure trade deals with other countries and possibly achieving accession to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

"You’ll not be surprised to hear that I am far from happy that the CJEU will be involved in resolving future disputes; although the Prime Minister has assured us that our own courts will have primacy."

“Obviously I can quite understand why many people are voicing their grave concerns about the package however, as a pragmatist and realist I have asked the following three questions. First of all, would an agreement that did not contain these concessions have any chance of getting through our Parliament? The answer is a categorical no. Secondly is there any prospect whatsoever of the EU accepting more robust terms? The answer here is a categorical no as well. Thirdly, was there any other way of sorting out the Irish border question without imposing a hard border and putting at risk the future and integrity of the United Kingdom. The answer here is another no.”

“This is why I feel it is absolutely essential that we now get behind the Prime Minister and support her 100% as she take the agreement to Brussels and different European Heads of State and Government. Whilst it is highly regrettable her two senior ministers have stood down, in some ways this might strengthen her hand with the EU, because it is now obvious that the Prime Minister is not going to be able to make any further concessions.”

Henry went on to say:“I was also pleased and relieved the Prime Minister has also stated very clearly that first of all, she is not going to make any further concessions; and that she is also instructing her Cabinet to put in place the necessary contingencies for a no deal outcome. I can assure you I understand your concerns and feelings but we will be leaving the EU on 29.03.19 its Single Market and Customs Union; the Common Agricultural and Fishery Policies; and we will have an independent foreign and defence policy whilst the supremacy of our courts will be restored."

 

18th June 2018

Henry was delighted that the government was successful last week in rejecting every one of the Amendments put forward by the House of Lords, with majorities ranging from 11-30.

Commenting on the matter Henry said "I do believe this sends a strong message back to the House of Lords - whilst it is in order for them to propose technical amendments, it is completely wrong and unacceptable for them to try and pass wrecking amendments. It is also absurd to me that there are a significant number of Lords who actually want to stop Brexit and defy the will of the people."

With regards to a meaningful vote Henry has stated that "this is obviously an ongoing issue, and whilst I am not entirely opposed to a meaningful vote at the end of the negotiations and at the stage when the final deal is brought back to this country; it would, however, be quite wrong to give Parliament the power to try and direct the negotiations."

 

23rd March 2018

I was delighted the Prime Minister secured agreement before Christmas on the 3 key principles of Phase 1 of the Brexit negotiations. Indeed, many doubted whether this would be possible but she managed to confound her critics.

Since then, the Prime Minister has united her Cabinet under her leadership and this is very good news indeed. Theresa May has shown herself to be resilient, strong and statesmanlike.

It was also a really quite outstanding achievement for her to secure agreement on the transition. This will prevent the so-called ‘cliff edge’ scenario and give businesses much more certainty. Of course, there is still some way to go and I have already voiced my own concerns about staying within the Common Fisheries within the transition period.

On the subject of fisheries, I was one of the signatories of the recent letter to the Prime Minister which strongly urged her to spell out very clearly how Britain is going to take back control after the 1st January 2021.