MP backs May with ‘heavy heart’ to avoid no-deal damage
by Andy Tong | 4th January 2019
TOM TUGENDHAT has said that he will support Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal ‘with a very heavy heart’.
The MP for Tonbridge & Malling has been campaigning strongly to stop the M26, which runs along the north of the borough, from becoming a lorry park in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Plans have been put in place for the ten-mile stretch to be shut to accommodate freight waiting to enter the port of Dover or the Channel Tunnel on its way over the new frontier to the European mainland – a project known as Operation Brock.
The closure would affect access to a number of villages between the M25 and West Malling, meaning the politician will not support a no-deal scenario.
Mr Tugendhat – who is married to French supreme court judge Anissia Morel – is Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and will be at the forefront of dealings with the European governments and heads of state once Britain leaves the EU.
His constituency voted overwhelmingly to leave in the referendum, with a 55.7 per cent majority on a turn-out of almost 80 per cent.
And he fears that with Kent on the front line of potential problems with trade, the economic viability of the borough could suffer if firms are wary of investing in it.
He told the Times: “As things stand, and with a very heavy heart, I was intending the back the Prime Minister’s deal.
'There are firms and companies lining up to invest in our towns and they need to know what we are planning before they do so'
“Though we still have to negotiate the transition arrangements, I do think it is imperative to bring some clarity to this matter as quickly as possible.
“There are firms and companies lining up to invest in our towns and they need to know what we are planning before they do so.
“That requires an agreement and so far this is the only one on the table.”
He hopes the delay to the Commons vote on the Prime Minister’s deal will allow his Parliamentary colleagues to take a step back and realise the importance of their actions, saying ‘none of us was elected to gamble with our country’s future’.
“Of course, the current turmoil in Westminster and the Prime Minister’s recent visit to Europe to seek some further assurances leave us no more certain what the future holds,” he said.
“I hope this will provide the opportunity we all need to think hard about the implications of decisions before us.
“That is why I am so greatly concerned at the uncertainty of rejecting this agreement and leaving without a deal.
'I couldn’t vote for something which could damage communities I represent in this way'
“That would leave us open to a range of possibilities, from a further referendum to the economic challenge of a departure with no agreement on future arrangements.”
He stresses that no-deal will have a massive effect on West Kent, saying: “The impact of a departure without an agreement on our continuing trade with the EU would be severe and I am confident we can find better arrangements for our community.
“Should we choose not to, however, communities such as Borough Green, Platt and Wrotham would feel the impact very quickly, as I’ve made clear, following the closure of the M26, which is part of the government’s plan to handle any delays in trade flow.
“That would leave our friends and neighbours cut off. I couldn’t vote for something which could damage communities I represent in this way.”