Mike Wood: I have serious concerns over PM's Brexit deal
Mike Wood has admitted he could oppose the Prime Minister's Brexit deal due to 'serious concerns' he has over the Irish backstop.
The Dudley South Tory MP said the backstop issue – a position of last resort to keep an open border in Ireland in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit – had given him food for thought over Tuesday's crucial Commons vote.
The move has proved unpopular among many MPs because it would potentially result in a hard border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
It comes as the Prime Minister continues to face an uphill battle to sell her agreement with the EU to MPs ahead of the vote.
Mr Wood, a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Department for International Trade, was the only MP in the Black Country to campaign for Brexit in the EU referendum.
In recent days he has attended a lengthy meeting with Theresa May and has also been invited to meet with Attorney General Geoffrey Cox to discuss the Government's Brexit plan.
He told the Express & Star he had a 'vitally important' decision to make over whether he would back the Brexit deal in its current form.
Citing concerns over the Irish backstop, he added: "Once we get into a backstop position – and at the moment it is hard to see how we avoid it – it is not at all clear how we get out.
"In the meantime we can't conclude any of our international trade deals, which after all, was the big opportunity of Brexit.
"In my opinion there's a lot of things in the agreement that are quite good. There are parts that I would not have chosen myself, but as compromises go, it's not a bad one.
"But the backstop provision weakens our position."
Defeat for Mrs May's deal – which is opposed by members of all parties including dozens of Tories – would almost certainly trigger a confidence vote and leave the Prime Minister's administration hanging by a thread.
But Mr Wood said he would not be among those calling for her to be replaced.
"I can't see what that would achieve," Mr Wood said. "The very last thing we need at the moment is a three month internal leadership contest.
"It won't change any of the fundamental problems that we are dealing with."
In an Express & Star poll more than two thirds of readers urged MPs to vote down Mrs may's plan.
Leading Brexiteers Sir Bill Cash, the Stone MP, and Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant have already confirmed they will vote against the deal next week. Two thirds of MPs are expected to oppose it.
Meanwhile Owen Paterson says he hopes the current five-day House of Commons debate will enable him to convince MPs that there is an alternative to Mrs May’s 'appalling' plan.
The North Shropshire MP and Brexiteer, who spoke in the Commons in last night's debate, said: “I really do not know what the middle ranking people in the Tory Party are currently going to do. I am absolutely clear that this deal is absolutely appalling and I am definitely going to vote against it.
“But what I want to get across is that we have a real alternative and I am not sure many people are aware of it.
"I think if we can portray a sensible and practical alternative that may swing more middle ranking MPs to vote down appalling this deal.”
Mr Paterson wants the Government to leave the EU with no deal and move to World Trade Organisation terms, while immediately re-starting negotiations on an agreement with Brussels.