Gazette & Herald Column: Brexit deal now on table is the best one available

I have received hundreds of emails on Brexit in the last few weeks, and recognise the strength of feeling on all sides of the argument. Having spent a lot of time considering all of the options, reading and discussing the details around the Cabinet table, I do believe that the deal on offer is the best available for our economy, delivering on the result of the referendum while protecting jobs, the security and integrity of the United Kingdom.

We now face a choice: backing this deal in the national interest so we can build a brighter future, or going back to square one by rejecting it. That would mean damaging uncertainty which will threaten jobs, investment and the economy, more national division, and less time and resources to focus on the issues that matter here in the UK like our NHS and schools.

That is why I am backing this deal, which delivers what the majority of both the British people and the people of Devizes voted for in 2016. We will control our own borders, ending free movement for good; we will no longer send vast sums of money to the EU, so we can spend more on our priorities; we will be able to strike free trade deals around the world; we will take back control of our laws, ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice; and we will protect the integrity of our United Kingdom. Furthermore, it means we will be leaving the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy, regaining British sovereignty for these hugely important national industries.

I know that one of the issues causing a lot of concern at the moment is the backstop, and there is widespread misunderstanding about whether this is needed, at least in its current form. The backstop is needed because of the difference between the Political Declaration and the legal Withdrawal Agreement. Put simply, there is no Withdrawal Agreement without a legally operative backstop. As such, changing or scrapping the backstop really only means one thing: no deal, and the chaos that would involve. Only the deal we have negotiated can ensure that there will be no hard border on day one.

There are no easy solutions, but only the Conservative Government is working to deliver a Brexit deal that works for the whole of the UK: a strong economy that keeps jobs safe and wages rising, and first-class public services we can rely on. That is why I am backing Theresa May in supporting this deal and working to achieve a positive, beneficial future relationship with the EU.