The clock is ticking, and I am worried that a no deal Brexit is no longer just a negotiating tool, but a scary reality for so many concerned residents and businesses in Watford. That’s why I want to be straight with people. There is no such thing as a managed no-deal. There is just no deal – which would be catastrophic for business and the economy.

One thing I’ve learnt from my 25-year business career is that above all business needs certainty. Businesses deserve to know the terms on which they will be able to sell products and services to our largest export market. They need certainty before they can continue to invest in the UK and employ people.

I speak to businesses in Watford every day and I understand the challenges they face. They can’t afford to simply cross their fingers and hope for the best. Every day that goes by without answers to these questions accelerates the flow of investment, jobs and economic activity out of the country – and to the EU. That’s why we need to take action now.

This week, I was sad to see three of my colleagues and friends leave the Conservative Party. I respect their decision, but I don’t think it was the right one. We can only ensure an orderly departure from the EU by coming together around a compromise that will command a majority in the House of Commons.

The Prime Minister has my full support as she seeks to gain reassurances from the EU on what I still think is the best deal for Britain. But if that’s not possible, then we will have no choice but to consider an extended article 50 period, taking a no-deal Brexit off the table to allow time for discussions to continue.

  • Richard Harrington is Conservative MP for Watford