I wish I could be responding with more positive news but the truth is that Brexit has left us deeply divided and that is reflected in our politics and Parliament. We have reached gridlock. The Prime Minister's deal failed to pass for the third time and none of the alternative options presented by backbench MPs reached a majority. The greatest number of votes was for a referendum on the final deal and the slimmest margin of defeat was for a customs union to be added to the deal.
The legal position is that, unless a deal is agreed by Parliament, we leave with No Deal in little over a week's time. This is I know the preferred option for many who have written to me but not for the majority. It would lead to such serious real-world harms both locally and nationally that I could never support it. It would mean knowingly and deliberately voting to make this community poorer and for many of my constituents to lose their jobs and livelihoods.
I won't don't that.
It could not be more obvious that the problem with the original referendum was that it never defined which of the many versions of Brexit was on offer. The risks, trade offs and benefits of No Deal, Canada Plus, Norway, Norway Plus and the Prime Minister's Deal are all very different but campaigners were able to talk up the benefits and downplay the risks. It turns out that we cannot have our cake and eat it and that countries are not queuing at our door to sign up to advantageous trade deals.
Our future prosperity is already taking a hammering with the steady drum beat of industries and agencies taking future investment and jobs elsewhere. The list is long and growing, from car manufacturers to pharmaceuticals and the European Medicines Agency and this will have a ripple effect far beyond their immediate home towns and cities. Many local businesses including farming would also be hit, particularly by No Deal.
The impasse in Parliament could be broken if the Prime Minister simply agreed to combine the support for her Deal from the government benches with the wide cross party support for putting the final deal back to the people to check it has their consent. It is a great shame that she has so rigidly refused to countenance this.
The PM has now announced that she wants to reach an alternative compromise with Jeremy Corbyn. Few expect this to work if the Prime Minister listens to compromise arguments and then presses on with her own plans. Her current position seems more like running down the clock to No Deal with the ultimatum of accepting her Deal or going over the edge.
Today, back bench MPs are trying to press through a bill to extend the date of that cliff edge. In my view any extension must be long enough to allow the government to put this decision back to the people for a final say either through a general election or a second referendum.
Ultimately, a compromise for a softer Brexit would be preferable to risking the known harms of No Deal but I still feel it would be wise to check that it represented the will of the people and to give everyone the opportunity to have their say, not just MPs.
Without that final say, any decision will continue to cause division and acrimony long into the future.
If confirmed, Parliament could rapidly implement the defined deal or revoke Article 50 depending on the outcome and we could finally move on together.
We all want to be able to focus on issues other than Brexit.