Shailesh Vara has confirmed he will vote “with reluctance” for Theresa May’s Brexit deal as it is the “least bad choice to deliver on the referendum result”.
The Conservative MP for North West Cambridgeshire voted Remain in the 2016 referendum but since then has been a vocal supporter of leaving the UK to respect the result of the national vote.
Mr Vara, who resigned as Northern Ireland minister in opposition to the deal, has twice voted against it when it was previously put before MPs.
However, he will now support a watered down version being put to a vote at 2.30pm this afternoon (Friday, March 29).
Previous votes have been on both the Withdrawal Agreement - the document outlining how the UK’s exit from the EU would work - and Political Declaration - which outlines the future relationship between the two.
Today, MPs are voting just on the Withdrawal Agreement.
If it is approved the date for the UK to leave the EU be extended until May 22. If not, then the extension is just until April 12.
The UK was originally due to leave the EU at 11pm this evening.
Mr Vara said: “The Withdrawal Agreement remains a bad deal, but with Parliament now being run by Remainer MPs there is a real danger that we could end up with an even worse deal or no Brexit at all.
“So with reluctance I will vote for the Withdrawal Agreement today as it has now become the least bad choice to deliver on the referendum result. If the Withdrawal Agreement gets through it will at least mean we leave the EU.”
Mr Vara was the first minister to quit when the deal was first revealed.
At the time he said the agreement “leaves the UK in a half-way house with no time limit on when we will finally be a sovereign nation”.
“Given the past performance of the EU, there is every possibility that UK-EU trade deal that we seek will take years to conclude. We will be locked in a Customs Arrangement indefinitely, bound by rules determined by the EU over which we have no say.”
He added: “We can and must do better than this. The people of the UK deserve better. That is why I cannot support this agreement.”
Independent MP for Peterborough Fiona Onasanya, who has also voted against the deal twice, said she will continue to oppose it.
She tweeted that she will not be supporting it as “nothing has changed”.