Jim Nicholson: There is still time for MPs to get a better Brexit deal

MPs in the House of Commons, London, in December last year where the government has suffered its first defeat over the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill after MPs supported a Tory rebel amendment for a "meaningful vote". MPs now have such a meaningful vote next week, with huge ramifications. Photo: PA Wire
MPs in the House of Commons, London, in December last year where the government has suffered its first defeat over the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill after MPs supported a Tory rebel amendment for a "meaningful vote". MPs now have such a meaningful vote next week, with huge ramifications. Photo: PA Wire

The future of our country is in the hands of the House of Commons.

These next few days will prove pivotal in the nation’s history. I would urge MPs of all parties to think seriously about the implications of this deal.

Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

The government spin is that the only options are this deal, or no deal. Neither of those options are acceptable.

It suits Juncker and co to say that but the reality is there is still time for the UK and the EU to agree something better. I have no doubt there are sincere unionists even in the cabinet who in their gut know this deal is bad for the Union and bad for the country.

My message to those individuals is: trust your instincts, push for a better deal, do not jeopardise the integrity of the UK simply for the sake of getting something over the line.

We are not talking about something that can be corrected in the future after it is agreed. This will become a legally binding international treaty. Against that, no commitment from this government nor any government will have the same weight.

I have a lot of respect for our prime minister. This is not about personalities but it is about principles. Any deal involves compromises, but as the government’s own legal advice spells out, the Northern Ireland backstop is a step too far.

Theresa May herself once said no UK prime minister could accept a customs or regulatory border down the Irish Sea– that is as true now as it was then, and in her heart I think she knows that.

Jim Nicholson, Ulster Unionist MEP, Co Armagh