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Politics / Carmichael to vote against ‘the deal no one wanted’

Brexit deal not in the national interest, MP says

Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael MP.Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael.

ISLES MP Alistair Carmichael has confirmed that he intends to vote against the Brexit deal when it comes before the House of Commons either on 11 or 12 December.

The Lib Dem politician said voting in favour of the deal that received formal backing by EU leaders at the weekend was not in the national interest.

The prospect of the deal being voted down in December has prompted some MPs to warn that this would take the UK into unchartered waters.

Prime Minister Theresa May has two weeks to sell the agreement to the country with Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and the DUP – as well as many Tory MPs – all expected to vote against the deal.

In a ‘letter to the nation’, the Prime Minister said on Sunday: “It will be a deal that is in our national interest – one that works for our whole country and all of our people, whether you voted Leave or Remain.”

Speaking on Monday, Carmichael said it was clear to him that the deal would leave the country worse off  “as it didn’t even meet the hopes of those who voted for Brexit”.

“I can’t see how it can ever be in the national interest to vote for a deal that nobody wanted and which is so poor as a result,” Carmichael said.

“I really don’t feel conflicted on this one, and in particular the way in which the government has treated the fishing industry in this deal means that there is very little in it to recommend it to me.

“I do get a lot of e-mail traffic from constituents who were on the remain site of the argument saying they were unhappy with this, which is not very surprising, but at the moment I am also getting a lot of e-mail traffic from constituents who supported the leave campaign and they are also telling me to vote against it.”

The MP for Orkney and Shetland added: “If the only way that Theresa May can think of to persuade people to back the deal is to put a gun to their head, metaphorically, and to say that this is the only option available, then it tells you just how desperate she is.

“This is the only deal that Theresa May could get because Theresa May was negotiating with her primary objective to maintain unity within the Conservative party rather than pursue the national interest.”

In the Brexit referendum in June 2016, 56.5 per cent of voters in Shetland, and 63.2 per cent of Orcadians, voted to remain in the EU.

Carmichael said that it was clear to him that the national interest would be best served if the UK was to remain in the European Union.

“But even if we are not to do that, I think the national interest would be for us to be part of the single market and the customs union on a formal basis,” he added.

“You could still come out of the CFP [Common Fisheries Policy] while you are part of the single market. It would mean you wouldn’t have the current uncertainty on the future of labour availability for processing sector, and it would mean that you wouldn’t have the current uncertainty about the availability of Europe as an export market.”

He went on to say that in his view it was unlikely that there would ever be a majority in the UK parliament for the current Brexit deal.

Should Theresa May lose next month’s vote, she could either accept defeat and resign as Prime Minister there and then, or she could try and bring the deal back before the House of Commons for a second vote later in December.

“And if you have gone round that course once or twice you will have to eventually say ‘parliament has failed in managing this situation’,” Carmichael said.

“And when parliament fails you go back to the people, and there are two ways in which we can go back to the people, you can either have a referendum on the deal, or you can have a general election.”

Since organising a general election would take too long in the tight timeframe available until the EU exit date of 29 March, Carmichael said he sees a referendum on the deal – the so-called people’s vote – as the way forward.

General Election - 12 December 2019