I am afraid that my right hon. Friend is right. There are some advantages to the position we are in now that we sign away in this never-ending backstop, transition, waiting-room phase that we are going to be stuck in. For all those reasons, I cannot support a deal that has an open-ended backstop at its heart. We need a clean, global Brexit on terms on which both partners can confidently plot their future beyond 2020 to our mutual benefit—no more kicking into the long grass; no more avoiding taking difficult decisions. It does not make that decision any easier by having endless transitions and further discussions and negotiations lasting years and years. We have to grasp the reality.
Where is a crack team of the best brains across the UK and EU working on credible, practical, technology-based solutions for the Northern Ireland-Irish border, for example? Surely that should have been our biggest priority for some time if the backstop hinged on it, but I do not think I am alone in looking in vain for any sense of urgency here.
Those who have come up with no practical solutions for a workable Brexit deal, despite having stood on a Conservative or Labour manifesto at the last election that pledged to deliver Brexit, should stop kidding themselves and stop conning the British public that everything will be magically resolved by a second referendum. If it were to come up with a different result from the first referendum, why should 17.4 million people who voted in good faith, many for the first time ever, accept the result? If it were to come up with the same result, how much more time will be wasted, how many more resources will be wasted and how many further damaging delays will be caused? And given the huge divisions resulting from the first referendum, how does repeating that bruising experience do anything to help to bring the country back together again? Surely our current travails would be exacerbated even further, if that were possible.
So for me there is only one alternative—to resoundingly reject this framework deal in the House when we vote next Tuesday. It will send out a strong message to the EU that, while there is much in the agreement we can sign up to, and much that can be negotiated in subsequent negotiations, an unbridled, non-time-limited backstop makes it completely unworkable. If the EU is serious about achieving a mutually beneficial relationship, it must acknowledge that, re-engage accordingly and come up with more realistic terms that this House then can show a lead in agreeing to in determining our future and bringing back some degree of the certainty that everyone is screaming out for.