Some have suggested I leave the Conservative Party to either join another party or establish a new one. I have no wish to do either and it is not something I am contemplating.
I am a Conservative because I believe the Conservative party, despite all our difficulties, embodies the best hope we have for a free and prosperous UK under responsible, far-sighted government. I will be sticking with the Conservatives, not least because I find I am in agreement with a clear majority of our members about how we should proceed.
I know many people believe the Prime Minister has been dedicated to finding a way for the UK to leave the EU. I do not doubt it but the Government has looked in the wrong direction for solutions. I do not believe asking Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party to help negotiate the terms of the UK’s withdrawal is acceptable: Labour are bound to demand customs union with the EU, breaking our manifesto commitments. And if a deal is hammered through over the heads of our confidence and supply partners in the DUP, it is difficult to see how the Government will continue.
I foresaw in the months following July 2018 that it was not likely the Prime Minister would secure sufficient numbers of MPs to agree the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU which she envisaged from that point. I gave every warning that policy had to change and I worked with others to set out a better policy, including important compromises.
Late in 2018, I thought the Brexit process could be rescued if a new Prime Minster was in charge of the negotiations. We could not convince enough fellow Conservative MPs to agree at the time. The atmosphere in the Commons and in the Conservative Party in the country has now changed.
I continue to be convinced it is possible to facilitate the UK’s orderly withdrawal from the EU, through a revised Withdrawal Agreement, towards a broad and deep relationship of the character the EU offered us in March 2018.