Dear Prime Minister,
This is very difficult letter to write. One which I never expected to compose. It has been an immense honour to support you in delivering the historic opportunity of leaving the EU as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union. It has, in many ways, been a dream job which I have enjoyed tremendously. However, despite my strenuous attempts, I now find myself unable to sincerely support the deal agreed yesterday by Cabinet. It is therefore with deep regret that I tender my resignation.
My reasons are simple. Firstly, the proposed Northern Ireland Backstop is not Brexit. It is not what the British people—or my constituents—voted for in 2016. It prevents an unequivocal exit from a customs union with the EU. This robs the UK of the main competitive advantages from Brexit. Without a unilateral right to terminate or a definite time limit to the Backstop, our numerous promises to leave the customs union will not be honoured. 17.4 million people voted for the UK to leave the EU in our own sovereign way and at a time of our choosing. The Backstop renders this impossible and generations of people will see this as betrayal.
Secondly, the backstop proposal set out different regulatory regimes for Northern Ireland and Great Britain threatening to break up our precious Union. I am confident—having met with Customs professionals in my role at the department—that this could have been avoided.
Throughout this process, I have compromised. I have put pragmatism ahead of idealism and understand that concessions are necessary in a negotiation. I have kept faith in the ultimate destination to justify an uncomfortable journey. However I’ve reached a point where I feel that these concessions do not respect the will of the people—the people who put us here and whom we humbly serve. We must not let them down.
I thoroughly enjoyed working at the Department and have been supported by excellent civil servants. To them, I am grateful.
Thank you for the opportunity. I have immense respect for the way in which you have conducted yourself during this very difficult times. I know how extremely hard you have worked to serve our national interest.
I look forward to working to deliver Brexit in the best possible way from the Backbenches.