April 2019

Search for certainty on Brexit journey

There have been few more significant political issues than Brexit and my daily postbag reflects passionately held views and concerns on all sides of the debate.

The fast-paced twists and turns of recent weeks, and delay in leaving the EU, have added to the uncertainty across the country and Dumfries and Galloway has been no different.

As MP I like to keep constituents up-to-date with what I've been doing during the Brexit journey although I'm fully aware that events may have again moved on by the time many Free Press readers see this column.

I have consistently voted in favour of the deal that the Prime Minister negotiated with the EU and I will do so again if it is brought back to the House of Commons for a further vote.

The best way for the UK to leave the EU is, I firmly believe, with an agreement and Mrs May's deal is the only one on the table. I'm disappointed that a majority of MP colleagues have so far not joined me in supporting the deal.

I am always open to a suitable compromise that would command majority support in the Commons. All options presented as part of the indicative vote process over the last fortnight were rejected. 

Solutions, including a customs union, have not received my support because they do not address the Northern Ireland Backstop issue.

Most constituents I've spoken to are desperate for certainty to be restored and by the end of the process I wish to see a solution that can command majority support. 

The UK-wide result in the 2016 referendum means Brexit must be delivered for the sake of democracy.  It also reflects the 2017 Conservative and Labour general election manifesto pledges.

We cannot disregard the views of 17.4 million people, including the more than a million Scots who voted to leave.  Equally, we need to ensure that the desire of 16.1 million people to remain part of the EU are taken into account.

The Prime Minister’s deal remains the most direct route to a smooth and orderly Brexit.  It safeguards the rights of all our citizens in the EU, and those from the EU living here, protects jobs and our economy whilst respecting the referendum result. 


Investing in Borderlands future

I was pleased the £345 million Borderlands Initiative, supported by the UK and Scottish Governments, was confirmed by Chancellor Philip Hammond.

The inclusive growth deal comprises £260 million long-term investment by the UK Government, supplemented north of the border over a decade by £85 million from the Scottish Government.

Whilst strategic projects with the most potential are top of the agenda it is important the progress is monitored to ensure that all areas from Stranraer to Berwick benefit from the deal.

I will continue to press for regeneration and infrastructure improvements across Dumfries and Galloway constituency both through Borderlands and other existing funding sources.

As well as major strategic capitial projects, I want to see the economic benefits of regeneration and infrastructure improvements extend coast-to-coast from Stranraer to Berwick.