AS a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Bridgwater and West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger spends a chunk of his time in Europe and knows a lot about the European Union.

Here he gives us the lowdown on his thoughts on Theresa May’s Brexit deal that has been at the centre of national headlines this week.

“I spent the weekend trying to make sense of a 585-page volume - the Prime Minister’s Brexit Deal. It is not an easy read. I doubt if Hollywood will purchase the film rights. But it is important.

“The certainties are all contained within. The date we are due to leave the EU is firmly locked into the calendar – March 29, 2019. We know how much money Britain will have to pay for this amicable exit to take place - £39billion.

“After which we will no longer be beholden to the European Court of Justice or the Common Agriculture Policy or the Fisheries regime.

“Yes, we will be able to control immigration better when the ‘transition period’ expires.

“Mrs May hopes transition will be no more than 21 months during which time everything stays the same in all but name.

“We will be ‘out’ of Europe, but still locked ‘in’ as far as trade and people movements are concerned.

“The whole purpose of a transition period is to allow both sides extra time to negotiate and settle outstanding issues. But now we know transition could be allowed to stretch. It may turn out to be a year longer, perhaps more.

“And this is where the validity of the deal begins to beg questions. The fact is there are still no guarantees about how the Irish question is to be solved.

“The deal includes a ‘backstop’ – an arrangement to keep Northern Ireland inside the EU’s Customs Union if long-term trade negotiations fail.

“It would avoid a hard border, complete with hundreds of officers checking people and vehicles in Ireland itself. However, it could also have the unwanted effect of trapping the rest of the UK into the same Brussels-run Customs Union whether we like it or not.

“Several senior ministers didn’t like it and have resigned.

“I must say I am also very concerned about this element.

“I also have suspicions about the enthusiasm displayed by some European leaders.

“The more they praise the settlement the more anxious I become.

“There are many uncertainties ahead. The UK must plan for a ‘no deal’ scenario which is bound to be uncomfortable in the short term. But even if Mrs May’s package passes the hurdle of a European summit, scheduled near the end of this month, Parliament could still reject the plan in December.

“Whatever some may think, there is no doubt in my mind that the Prime Minister has tried incredibly hard. She has put her back into negotiating and kept her cool. No-one is dancing in the streets at the outcome, but there is respect for the lady and her sincerity.

“I agree with her on the issue of a second referendum.

“There is no way we should re-run the argument. It would be a denial of the democratic vote two years ago. In my constituency people voted to leave by a decisive margin.

“You cannot ask the public to decide and then expect them to do it again because you didn’t like the first answer.

“My instinct and my mailbag suggest that very few have changed their minds anyway.

“But I would still welcome your views. Please feel free to drop me a line or send me an email.”