Deal best way forward at Brexit journey milestone

WE ARE at a critical moment as we prepare for Brexit and during the last few days a number of constituents across Dumfriesshire Clydesdale and Tweeddale have asked me for my thoughts. 

I hope my article on the current situation proves helpful.

This weekend, Prime Minister Theresa May will seek to conclude our deal with the other EU members states and a few days after that MPs will vote on it. It will be deal or no deal. 

I won’t pretend the deal is perfect.

No-one gets everything they want in a negotiation – and we’ve had two years of tough negotiations with the EU.

So the deal is a compromise.

If between now and the final vote in Parliament we learn the deal does not deliver everything we’ve promised our fishing industry, I’ll not be able to support it. 

And the same goes for Northern Ireland.

I need to be sure the so-called backstop plan does not threaten the integrity of the UK by creating fundamentally different, permanent arrangements for Northern Ireland. 

But I’m encouraged those risks have been avoided because it’s clear the arrangements focus on the specific circumstances in Northern Ireland – the need to honour the Belfast Agreement and maintain the fragile peace process, and to avoid a hard border with Ireland.  

One thing I am absolutely certain about is this: a no deal Brexit would be a disaster for Scotland and the whole of the UK.

It would harm the economy, threaten jobs and damage people’s standards of living. I will do everything I can to stop that happening. 

I’ve been disappointed by the soap opera of cabinet resignations over the past few days and I’m dismayed that colleagues might yet try to force a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister. 

That would be a huge distraction at the worst possible moment.

It is time for MPs on all sides to recognise that the alternative to the deal we have negotiated is leaving the EU without a deal. I hope that nightmare prospect really focuses minds in the days ahead.

There is nothing to stop the SNP and Labour backing the deal.  It achieves key goals set out in their own Brexit plans, like protecting trade and citizens’ rights.  

However, to support their own political objectives, they currently plan to vote against the proposed agreement. 

Prime Minister Theresa May has shown resolve, determination and strength of character as we move towards the final, difficult stages of the Brexit process.  

She is doing what’s right for our local area, Scotland and the whole of the UK – and I’m right behind her.