This past week alone, I have received hundreds of emails, letters, postcards and phone calls from constituents on this topic, and I have read and listened to them all with interest.
The communications I have received are from both sides of the debate, and are generally evenly split. It is clear that this is a divisive issue and that opinions will always differ. However, the important thing is that we get the best deal for our country, whilst respecting the will of the British people.
Many people argue that those who voted to leave the EU did so out of ignorance. However, the Government at the time of the referendum sent out booklets to every household in the UK, outlining what they believed to be the merits of remaining in the EU. Despite the majority of the political establishment advocating a vote to remain, the option to leave received more votes than any Prime Minister or political party in British history. It would be undemocratic to renege on this decision. Also, having a second referendum would not unite the country - it would just tell the British people that their decision in 2016 was wrong and that we will keep holding referendums until we get the answer we want.
I have always been clear that leaving the EU should mean leaving all its institutions - the Single Market, Customs Union, European Court of Justice, Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy, to name a few. However, I also want to ensure a lasting partnership with the European Union, to continue to work together on important issues such as security, chemical regulations and trade.
I fear that the deal that the Prime Minister has presented would leave us bound to the European Union in many ways and put at risk the United Kingdom by splitting Northern Ireland from the rest of the country. I cannot support a deal which hands over £39 billion without certainty of a future trading relationship. For this reason, as the deal stands at the moment, I will vote against it.
However, nothing is certain, and I will reserve my full judgement for when the final proposal is presented to us in Parliament to vote on. I believe that there is still time to amend this deal to better reflect the result of the referendum. I do not want or expect an outcome with no deal. However, I am assured that the Government is preparing for all eventualities.
On this matter, it is my duty as a Member of Parliament to act in the national interest and, as such, I will continue to listen to all views, whatever they may be.