Shailesh Vara has made a late attempt to prevent the Government’s EU Withdrawal Agreement from being accepted by writing to all Conservative MPs asking them to reject it.
The MP for North West Cambridgeshire has co-signed a letter the day before the crucial House of Commons vote alongside 11 other Conservative MPs warning their fellow Tories that the deal “cannot be the basis for a sustainable and successful relationship” with the EU .
Mr Vara, the only Remain supporter to sign the letter, resigned as Northern Ireland minister in opposition to the withdrawal agreement and has regularly stated that the UK has nothing to fear about a no deal scenario.
The letter states that voting through the withdrawal agreement would result in an “unacceptable backstop which would create barriers between Great Britain and Northern Ireland”.
It adds that the UK would be unable to leave the backstop without the EU’s permission, thus losing all bargaining power and that here would be a £39 billion divorce bill which would increase if the transition period was extended. A share of tariffs would also have to be handed over.
The cosignatories state: “This agreement is a blind alley. It cannot be the basis for a sustainable and successful relationship between the UK and the EU after Brexit.
“It is better to acknowledge that now rather than create further and bigger difficulties in the future.”
The letter also declares that the right vision is for a free trade agreement with “tried and trusted techniques and procedures” to ensure customs checks are carried out away from the Northern Ireland border.
It adds that leaving on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms “may give rise to some short-term inconvenience and disruption”, but that it will “end business and political uncertainty more quickly than any other option”.
The letter finishes: “In short, colleagues should be confident on January 15 that it is right to vote down this bad deal and that in doing so we will unlock a better for our party, our country and its people.”