THE Second Church Estates Commissioner, the Conservative MP Dame Caroline Spelman, has expressed optimism about the prospect of breaking the deadlock over Brexit.
Writing in today’s Church Times, as a backbench MP, Dame Caroline says: “After yet another tumultuous period in Parliament, there is at last some sign of light at the end of the tunnel. The Prime Minister now has two options before her that may lead to a deal being agreed in Parliament. Since time is short, these two strategies must be pursued in parallel.”
These two strategies are to “secure the support of enough Conservative and Unionist MPs to form a majority, or she must bring a considerable number of MPs from other parties on side.
“She will probably achieve the former only by securing changes to the proposed ‘backstop’ . . . or the latter, by agreeing to further customs ‘arrangements’ with the EU as part of any future relationship.”
MPs last week passed a non-binding amendment put forward by Dame Caroline and the Labour MP Jack Dromey, that rejected the UK’s leaving the EU without a deal (News, 1 February). “Although no-deal has therefore been ruled out by Parliament, a deal must now be agreed to guarantee this,” Dame Caroline writes.
After the amendment was passed, the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said that he was now prepared to meet Mrs May to discuss a “sensible Brexit solution that works for the whole country”.
Dame Caroline writes that Mr Corbyn wishes to secure a “customs union”, and the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration, as it stands, contains provision for “customs arrangements”.
“As talks continue, the main parties may not find themselves so far from one another,” she writes.
Dame Caroline is taking part in the Alternative Arrangements Working Group, which was formed after MPs last week voted for an amendment put forward by the Conservative MP Sir Graham Brady that called on the Government to pursue “alternative arrangements” to solve the Irish border problem.
The next key vote on Brexit will be on Thursday, St Valentine’s Day. “As talks continue, I encourage readers to pray that parliamentarians will act wisely and selflessly in the weeks ahead,” Dame Caroline writes.
Read the full article from Caroline Spelman here