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Dover MP Charlie Elphicke says Brexit EU Withdrawal Agreement like Hotel California

By Sam Lennon

An MP has compared the Brexit deal agreed between the EU and UK to Hotel California, where "you can check out any time you like but you can never leave".

Charlie Elphicke, the MP for Dover and Deal, said the 585-page draft withdrawal agreement effectively keeps this country in the European Union.

He is calling on the Prime Minister to try again for a better arrangement as she launches a charm offensive to convince MPs to back the deal in a vote in Parliament next month.

The Banksy mural in Dover, symbolising Brexit
The Banksy mural in Dover, symbolising Brexit

Quoting the Eagles' song, Mr Elphicke said: "It is like Hotel California – you can check out any time you like but you can never leave.

"This is a time for political courage. We don’t need to be bullied by the EU into this bad deal.

"Deal or no deal is a false choice. The Prime Minister should go and seek a better deal for Britain to become a free-trading, global nation once again.

"I believe our greatest days are not behind us – they are yet to come."

Au revoir to Europe - but the Dover MP questions our leaving deal
Au revoir to Europe - but the Dover MP questions our leaving deal

Mr Elphicke is the second Kent MP to denounce the deal since it was approved by the EU's 27 other member leaders in a summit in Brussels yesterday.

Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins said he would not support the deal, which he claimed "would keep us locked in the customs union with no independent means to leave".

Mr Elphicke listed four other reasons he has "grave doubts" about the EU withdrawal agreement.

He believes the proposal does not honour the referendum mandate, when the UK electorate voted to leave. He says this country will not take back control of its laws, waters, money or trade.

Mr Elphicke also thinks it does not honour the Conservative Manifesto, because the UK will not leave the EU’s single market or customs union in any meaningful way.

The European Court of Justice would also still hold sway over this country.

His fourth concern is that this teats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the UK as it effectively creates a border down the Irish Sea. This undermines the union of the UK, he believes.

Finally the Future Relationship political declaration is not a legally enforceable trade treaty.

Mr Elphicke questions whether the £39 million divorce bill should be spent on the declaration, which he sees as just a promise.

MP Charlie Elphicke
MP Charlie Elphicke

He said: "In the 2016 some two-thirds of voters in Dover & Deal voted to leave the European Union. The decision was clear – to take back control of our borders, laws, money and trade.

"It would be better instead to enter a Canada style trade agreement with the EU. There is still time for the Prime Minister to change course and deliver a better deal for Britain.

" deal that honours the referendum mandate and enables us to depart the EU as friends."

But Mr Elphicke said there was also a dilemma that as an MP he had a "clear instruction" from voters for the UK to leave the EU.

Dover: How will Brexit affect it?
Dover: How will Brexit affect it?

Yet, he acknowledge, many car concerned that leaving the EU without agreement would make trade across the English Channel harder.

He shares many others' fears are that there would be queues of lorries across Kent and that cross-Channel trade and Dover would both suffer.

He explained that this was why after the referendum he called a summit of the ports and transport industry to see how systems could be devised to ensure the Dover-Calais route continues successfully

He stressed that together they drew up a blueprint with a detailed plan setting out how the UK can be ready on day one, with or without a deal.

Mr Elphicke commented: "Sadly, the government failed to properly prepare for no deal as they should have. So ‘no deal’ could be challenging for our area in the short-term, if the EU try to punish us and take advantage of our lack of preparation."

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