[2nd Allotted Day]

Part of Immigration (Time Limit on Detention) – in the House of Commons at 6:37 pm on 5th December 2018.

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Photo of Robert Syms Robert Syms Conservative, Poole 6:37 pm, 5th December 2018

It would not be my favourite choice, but it may well be a choice that the House will have to consider depending on how we end up next year.

The reality is that I hope we can finesse the current agreement. Ultimately, the EU must accept that the backstop is unacceptable to Parliament. If it accepts that, there is a fairly good chance that the deal will go through. The deal, without the backstop, might be rather better than the EFTA proposals. We will have to see how the Prime Minister does. When there has been to-ing and fro-ing between member Governments of the EU, referendums and agreements, it is not unheard of for Governments to go back to the EU and say, “Our people will not wear it, think again.” It would take only some very modest changes to get the deal done. I hope that the Prime Minister listens to what the House says next Tuesday. I am afraid that I will be voting against the deal in its current form, but I will be receptive to modification of the backstop and then I hope that we will be in a position in which we can move on.

I am unhappy about voting against my Government. I have been a Member of Parliament for more than 20 years. Since coming into government in 2010, I have voted against the Government only once. This will be the second time. I hope that I never have to do it again because I believe that politics is a team game and I want my team to win and I want the Prime Minister to do the best for our nation. Unfortunately, though, I am a Conservative and Unionist and the backstop is something that I cannot accept.