The coming months will be crucial for our country's future and demands detailed and decisive thinking about the strategic choices we face as the government and all MPs debate how to respect Brexit but protect our jobs, economy, and rights.

The problem is that the narrow vote for leaving the EU did not reflect any consensus about how to do that. Some leavers voted for Brexit because they were angry about their economic condition and wanted to kick the establishment where it hurt. Others endorsed a lofty vision of a global Britain breaking free from the confines of the EU and making deals with countries around the world, although there is considerable vagueness about what this means in practice.

Others wanted to leave but remain in or associated with the single market and the customs union. We could leave but enjoy, for a reasonable price, the benefits of being part of the huge single market on our doorstep with which we are already closely aligned in regulations and standards. Maybe, others say, we should do this and allow free trade with other countries to develop on a longer-term basis.

The cabinet is fundamentally divided about this strategic choice with one faction favouring a hard Brexit and unleashing the spirit of entrepreneurial adventure in new economic sectors. The soft Brexit faction worries that this is uncertain and wants us to stick more closely with the EU.

Furthermore, we are in the middle of tense negotiations with the rest of the EU where the eventual deal is obscured by rhetoric as both sides play hard ball before what many hope is a deal that does not damage the UK or the EU.

I know many people scorn the recent assessments of the civil service that each of the three so far clear options for Brexit will mean a slump in our fortunes. The areas that voted most heavily for Brexit are said to be the ones that will suffer the biggest slowdown in growth. The North East, it is said, faces a cut in growth of 3% if the UK stays in the single market, 11% under a trade deal, and 16% with no trade deal, all compared with staying in the EU.

I cannot, in all conscience and as a public representative in the North East, ignore such warnings even if it is also true that no projections are watertight but the likelihood is that these forecasts are not far off the mark. It is also possible, for example, that a bespoke deal could defy the forecasts. It is, therefore, only right and proper that parliament has a meaningful vote in October on the shape of the deal that we negotiate with the EU. It is the duty of parliamentarians to fight for their constituents' interests and that of the UK as a whole.

My instinct is that we stick closely to the EU and thereby avoid needless friction in trade and dissuading major businesses employing many British people from moving to the continent. The final Brexit deal should retain the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union and allow businesses to trade as freely as now with agreed changes to freedom of movement rules. Brexit should not encourage a race to the bottom on workers’ rights.

And it could also avoid reinstating a hard border between the two parts of Ireland, which can destabilise the delicate deal that allows the people of Northern Ireland more easily to feel comfortable about being in the UK while enjoying the benefits of an all-Ireland economy.

I hope that the parliamentary debates can establish a new consensus about the best possible Brexit we can get. None of this will be easy or uncontroversial but the future of our country demands that parliament is smart, principled, tough, and far-sighted on decisions that are vital for all our futures.

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