I am grateful to all those constituents who have shared their views with me over the past few weeks. I have now had several hundred emails and letters, so many that I am regretfully unable to reply individually to each point, but I have read each one in coming to my own voting decisions.
There are different views across Sevenoaks and Swanley, just as there are across the country. And they divide at least four ways: there are Remainers who oppose the Withdrawal Agreement because it leads to an unknown Brexit and there are Remainers who support it, as keeping the UK fairly close to the current customs union; there are Leavers who want a purer Brexit and so oppose the Agreement for exactly the same reason, and there are Leavers who now support the Agreement fearing that unless we accept it we may never leave the EU at all. It is impossible to reconcile these differences in a single vote.
My conclusion is that we must implement the Referendum result as we promised, and we must avoid the potential damage to our economy and disruption here in Kent of leaving without any deal: the Leave campaign itself argued for “a careful change, not a sudden stop”. The government is committed to an orderly withdrawal, and my view is that there is now a greater risk of a disorderly exit if we do not support the Withdrawal Agreement today. Though the Agreement is flawed, and weakens the United Kingdom by disadvantaging Northern Ireland, these are issues to which we can return when the subsequent Withdrawal legislation comes before Parliament. That is why I supported the Government today.
With all best wishes
Michael Fallon MP