When Boris took office just under three months ago, his key pledge - to negotiate a new Brexit deal, ‘bin the backstop’, and take the UK out of the EU on 31st October - was met with scorn in Brussels and much of Westminster. The EU was adamant that the Withdrawal Agreement could not be re-opened and that a deal without the backstop was impossible.
Yet here we are: a new Brexit deal has just been signed off in Brussels, with no backstop, and an exit from the EU in two weeks’ time is now within touching distance.
This alone is an enormous achievement, especially when one considers the obstacles Boris’ opponents have put in his way at every turn.
But what of the deal itself? Is it an improvement on the May deal, much maligned by myself and fellow Eurosceptics?
The answer is in an emphatic yes.
By ditching the backstop, always the most intolerable aspect of the previous deal, Boris has achieved a monumental success. The trap that was inherent in the previous backstop has been removed, the EU no longer holding a veto over our ability to leave the customs union. We will now be free to strike free trade deals around the world without disruption and, crucially, Northern Ireland will remain forever part of the UK customs territory.
These changes, in addition to the revisions to the Political Declaration, set us on a path to a fundamentally different relationship with the EU than that envisioned in the package negotiated by the previous Government.
That relationship will be one based on an advanced free trade agreement and close cooperation. Gone are the veiled references to a customs union and anything resembling the ‘common rulebook’ set out at Chequers last year.
Boris’ deal will enable us to leave the EU as one United Kingdom in two weeks’ time, free to chart a new course in the World as an independent, sovereign nation. It will end the supremacy of EU law in the UK and restore democratic accountability over our nation’s governance, something which lay at the very heart of our decision to leave.
And this may be our last opportunity to do so. The numbers in Parliament are growing dangerously close to a majority in favour of a second referendum, with the Labour Party now seemingly in favour of a second referendum prior to a General Election, with all the division and discord that would cause.
When I speak to residents and businesses in my constituency of West Oxfordshire, the overwhelming message I get – regardless of how people voted in the referendum – is that the process has dragged on for far too long and needs to be resolved without further delay. People are desperate for our country to come together and move on after three years of crippling uncertainty and bitter division.
Against all odds, Boris has delivered a new deal for our country that sets us on course for an exciting, optimistic, democratic future. MPs must now step up to the plate, back the Prime Minister’s new deal, and allow the British people to move forward towards that bright future.
Robert Courts MP