Borders MP Lamont praises PM for seeking to change Brexit backstop

Borders MP John Lamont
Borders MP John Lamont

Borders MP John Lamont has today welcomed prime minister Theresa May’s announcement that she will seek to amend the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Last Tuesday, Mr Lamont was among the 118 Conservative MPs who voted against the agreement, as he said the deal “risked undermining the integrity of the United Kingdom”.

However, he stood firmly behind Mrs May and the government the following day in the vote of no confidence.

In the House of Commons today, Mrs May announced that she will go back to the EU with proposed changes to the withdrawal agreement, with a specific pledge to amend the Northern Ireland backstop – the arrangement to deal with the UK border with Ireland if a trade deal is not negotiated within two years.

Mrs May also ruled out a second referendum and announced that EU citizens living in the UK would not pay a fee in order to apply for settled status in the UK.

Just how much, if at all, the EU member states would be willing to agree to any change in the withdrawal agreement, is yet to be seen, but Mr Lamont believes it is “most straight-forward” way to deliver Brexit.

The local MP, who “remains committed to delivering Brexit”, said he had proposed amending the withdrawal agreement to “significantly alter or get rid of” the backstop.

He said: “I very much welcome this movement from the prime minister.

“Amending the withdrawal agreement is the most straightforward way of delivering Brexit and getting a deal through the parliament and I would urge the EU to give any proposals serious consideration.

“The deal as it stands risks the integrity of the United Kingdom and would mean we enter into an uncomfortable halfway house of having to follow EU rules but having no say over them.

“Both the EU and the UK have repeatedly said they do not want the Northern Ireland backstop to be used, which begs the question why is it in the agreement at all?”

He added: “It is disappointing that the SNP and Labour have failed to meaningfully engage in cross-party talks by making demands they know the prime minister cannot accept.

“The prime minister is right to argue against a second referendum and against ruling out a No-Deal Brexit.

“To back either of these options would put us in the weakest possible negotiating position with the European Union.”

Of the 64,914 Borderers who voted in the EU Referendum in 2016, 58.47% voted to remain.