I thought it best to ‘come clean’ and reveal how I had voted in the motion of confidence in the Prime Minister, rather than to hide behind the secrecy of the ballot.
I knew it would not be a popular decision, and I did not find it easy. Indeed, I wrestled with it all day and delayed voting until five minutes before the ballot closed at eight o’clock.
I voted against.
Like so many of my constituents, I have the greatest admiration for the Prime Minister’s dogged determination, stamina, and sheer ‘guts’. No one can fault her in the effort and perseverance she has put into BREXIT. My heart was definitely for the PM.
My problem is that I do not trust her judgement.
I have already set out in this column my reservations about the Withdrawal Agreement that she has negotiated. Before we even begin to negotiate the main effort, our trade deal, it agrees to the financial settlement, and also agrees that we cannot walk away from the negotiation no matter how unsatisfactory is the deal on offer.
It is, in my estimate, a potential disaster, even before we consider the arrangements which treat Northern Ireland separately, and have which have so angered the Democratic Unionists.
I am confident that many of those who -spurred on by the Daily Mail- wrote to me demanding that I vote for the agreement, have not themselves studied it.
Whilst I was among the 117 who voted against the Prime Minister, I was not one of the 48 who sought the ballot in the first place, by writing to Sir Graham Brady as Chairman of the 1922 Committee. On the contrary, I urged colleagues not to write.
The ballot having been triggered however, I felt that it was better to go with my head rather that my heart.
In the end it came down to this: I believe that we are close to an election because the PM has no majority in Parliament, and can no longer rely on the Democratic Unionists to provide her with one (because they perceive that they have been treated in bad faith).
After my experience of the 2017 election campaign I just do not have the confidence to go into another one under the same leadership.
The PM did try and address this issue during the day on which the ballot was held, by announcing that she would not lead her party into the next election. This was persuasive, and I wavered. It became clear however, that she spoke specifically of the election scheduled for 2022. Whereas my fear is for an election that may happen in the next few weeks.
In spite of my doubts, and my vote, the Prime Minister won, and -as I said to critics who were unimpressed by the margin of her victory- she won by a more decisive margin than the LEAVE campaign in the referendum and whose victory we are making such an effort to implement.
She won, and we must make the best of it.