Tobias Ellwood, the Conservative MP for Bournemouth East, claims a no deal would be “extremely damaging” if the PM’s withdrawal deal is defeated tonight.
Mr Ellwood, the Minister of Defence, told Buzz News in an exclusive interview: “If we don’t strike this deal, we then default to a no deal scenario and that would be hugely irresponsible for Britain to fall out of the European Union without anything in place.”
His warning comes on the day when MPs will vote in the House of Commons on Theresa May’s Brexit plan later this evening.
Mr Ellwood said: “This is the biggest decision we have faced in a generation and there’s a sense of sadness as well that it’s come to this point where we’re leaving an organisation where we have been partnering with close allies.
“And I’m very sorry the European Union hasn’t been more flexible in its structures to accommodate the issues that were presented during the referendum.
“But we also must reflect that when the democratic process took place, Bournemouth East voted 55% to leave and I must honour that by supporting the Prime Minister’s proposal this evening.”
The PM is due to address the Commons at 6:30pm in a last-ditch attempt to gain vote, with the vote commencing at 7pm. A result is expected at 9pm.
Mr Ellwood continues: “The reason why it’s important that this deal goes through, and every MP must consider this, is that those who wanted the Brexit project in the first place and the Conservatives who want to honour the Conservative Party manifesto which asked for a continued deep working relationship with Europe. This deal provides that.
“If we don’t strike this deal, we then default to a no deal scenario and that would be hugely irresponsible for Britain to fall out of the European Union without anything in place. Purely from a security perspective alone, it would be dangerous.
“So, I hope that the Prime Minister’s statement, were we not to secure the deal, will clarify the position that we must do anything we can to avoid a no deal situation.”
When asked about how a no deal plan would affect Bournemouth, the Minister of Defence said it would be “catastrophic”.
“We would have no financial services data relationship with the European Union so it would be difficult to do any trading from transport or movement of ships and so forth from the Poole area.
“There are no processes in place to immediately take over so there would be confusion from a trading relationships [point of view]. Tariffs would then be introduced so anyone doing business with Europe would be affected by that. It would be a retrograde step, it would be extremely damaging, I think, to who we are and what we are about.
“Bournemouth is a fantastic seaside resort, outward looking and engaged, through its university, across the world. By doing this, the cumulative effect would be a deterioration of our hard-earned credibility.
“So, if you want to honour the referendum result, if you want to have a different relationship which does provide control over your borders, your laws and your money, then this is the deal that offers that. I appreciate it is not the perfect deal but a no deal would be damaging. So, if you want Brexit, then you need to support this deal.”
In the build-up to this evening’s vote, Mr Ellwood emphasised he wanted to represent the views of his constituents. However, the message he has got from them is unclear.
“My postbag is full of advice telling me to vote a number of ways from a second referendum to no deal to supporting this deal to Norway Plus and the EA model. You name it, it has come through. There isn’t a consistent message that I am getting.
“I would say that the referendum now took place two and a half years ago. It was a snapshot of opinion in the country, it was a snapshot of opinion in Bournemouth.
Words by Greg Luckhurst