Borders MP John Lamont says he has “suffered many sleepless nights” pondering howto vote on UK prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal but has yet to come to a decision.
Speaking in the House of Commons this week, he described how he was torn between loyalty to Mrs May, who he said he admired, and his concerns about the agreement, which he says he has “deep misgivings” over.
Speaking six hours into a second day of debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday, he said that the public were by and large tired of Brexit but that they were relying on MPs to get the decision right.
He said he continued to have significant misgivings about the agreement, particularly over the lack of clarity about fishing rights post-Brexit, the Northern Ireland backstop and the fact that the text of the agreement put off so many decisions for a later date.
But he also praised Mrs May, who he said has “an almost impossible job.”
Describing the vote as one of the hardest decisions in his political life, the MP said he was going to use the debate “to carefully judge what is in the best interests of my constituents, Scotland and all of the UK” before coming to a decision.
Ahead of the vote, constituents can send their views to Mr Lamont about the agreement by filling in his survey online, or getting in touch by email.
In his speech, Mr Lamont said: “Almost everyone I have spoken to, whether they support this deal or not, has a huge amount of respect and admiration for the Prime Minister and the job she is doing. Negotiating a Brexit deal with the EU was an almost impossible job.
“I have never doubted the prime minister’s desire to achieve the best for the country and that she has poured her heart and soul into every aspect of this negotiation.
“And my admiration for our prime minister is making my decision all the more difficult.”
On the possibility of voting against the withdrawal agreement, Mr Lamont said: “Our country is better served by this government rather than any other alternative. I understand the significance of even contemplating voting against my government and colleagues.
“But my job here is also to consider the national interest; the interests of my constituents.”
Outlining his concerns about the agreement, Mr Lamont concluded: “We are putting off so many of the outstanding decisions for a later date.
“I have wrestled with this for hours, days and suffered many sleepless nights.
“I have spoken with many businesses and residents in the Borders and I am here to represent their views.
“Trying to reconcile my deep misgivings about this agreement compared to my loyalty to this prime minister and government has not been easy. One of the hardest in my political life.
“I have until Tuesday to consider my position and will use that time to carefully judge what is in the best interests of my constituents, Scotland and all of the UK.”