Borders MP John Lamont was set to vote against the Prime Minister’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement earlier this week but instead will vote on whether Therese May should remain as PM.
Within minutes of the official announcement, on Wednesday morning, that the necessary 48 letters of no confidence in the Prime Minister had been received by the Conservative party’s 1922 Committee of back bench MPs, Mr Lamont tweeted: “As a member of the Executive of the 1922 committee, I will be making no comment on the ballot taking place later today.”
Speaking in the House of Commons debate last week Mr Lamont admitted to “significant misgivings” about the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, particularly the lack of clarity about fishing post Brexit, the Northern Ireland backstop and so many decisions being put back for a later date.
By the beginning of this week Mr Lamont had decided to vote against the Withdrawal Agreement, saying it does not deliver for the Borders, Scotland or the United Kingdom.
However, he also acknowledged that Mrs May had an almost impossible job to do, saying: “Almost everyone I have spoken to, whether they support this deal or not, has a huge amount of respect and admiration for the Prime Minister and the job she is doing. Negotiating a Brexit deal with the EU was an almost impossible job.
“I have never doubted the Prime Minister’s desire to achieve the best for the country and that she has poured her heart and soul into every aspect of this negotiation.
“And my admiration for our Prime Minister is making my decision all the more difficult.
“I have never doubted the Prime Minister’s commitment to deliver the best for this country.
“Even amongst those who do not support this deal, the vast majority of people recognise she has put her heart and soul into public service over the past few years. And she has had an almost impossible job to do.”
On Monday Mr Lamont reached a decision and he concluded: “I have wrestled with this for hours, days and suffered many sleepless nights. I have spoken with many businesses and residents in the Borders and I am here to represent their views.
“Over the past few weeks I have received upwards of 1,000 emails, social media comments, survey responses and phone calls from Borderers. While there is little consensus about what should happen next, the clear message that I have received from my constituents was that this agreement does not satisfy many.
“Members of Parliament are being asked to support a deal without any clear ideas of what the alternatives are.”
By Tuesday Mr Lamont commented: “The Prime Minister is going back to European leaders now that it has become clear that the current withdrawal agreement does not have the support of the UK Parliament.
“Before the delay was announced, I made it clear that there would have to be significant changes, particularly around the backstop, in order for me to be able to support this deal. It is, however, far from ideal that this vote is being delayed. Businesses in the Scottish Borders need a decision to be made fast about what shape Brexit will take and any further delay will only increase uncertainty.
“In order for MPs to support a Brexit deal, it needs to deliver for the whole of the United Kingdom. This single objective needs to be the focus of Government efforts over the coming days and weeks.”
However, the single objective of delivering a Brexit deal has not been the only focus of Government in recent days.