This article was written by Damian and published in this week's Herald and Petersfield Post:
"The 2016 referendum result was close but decisive. Like many others, I had voted, and in my case campaigned, for Remain – but from the moment the result was in I accepted that and wanted to move forward.
But issues around Brexit have continued to hang over politics in different ways ever since.
It is a subject that has generated more correspondence to me, by far, than any other. Far more of that correspondence has come since the referendum than before. Although the views have been split fairly evenly, the strength of feeling has been equally strongly expressed on both sides.
People often say to me that East Hampshire constituents voted Remain. In fact, we don’t know that for sure as the vote was counted by local authority area, not by parliamentary constituency. We can say is it is likely the East Hampshire constituency had a majority for Remain. But whichever way it was, the margin was certainly narrow. And in any case, it was a single, national vote.
During the referendum campaign itself, questions about Northern Ireland did not loom as large as they did afterwards, with questions of costs and controls dominating the public and political debate.
I have always taken a close interest in Northern Ireland, first as a believer in the integrity of the UK. But also because it is my family background: my mother came from Co Fermanagh, Dad from Co Down, and I was there many times as a child in the 1970s and 1980s.
The peace that has been achieved in Northern Ireland, while still not quite perfect, is priceless. Its principal manifestation is the Good Friday Agreement, built on remarkable journeys that leaders from both communities made. It relies on a continuing commitment to understanding and compromise, and it requires always that both main communities are heard and respected and can retain the essence of their identity.
The Northern Ireland Protocol had greatly strained this compact for Unionists, and needed to be addressed. This week’s deal does that.
Central to the framework will be the free flow of goods for trade within the whole UK, with Ulster-bound goods separated into a red lane for goods going onwards to the EU, and a green lane for those staying in the province. It’s a sensible, proportionate approach.
There will also be a shift on VAT and taxation from the EU to the UK. The new ‘Stormont brake’ will enable the Northern Ireland Assembly to have a say over changes affecting EU goods and stop them applying in Northern Ireland.
People now need some time to study the detail, but it does seek and seem to address the fundamental concerns around the Protocol, and to safeguard sovereignty for the people of Northern Ireland.
It’s clear that it has taken very careful negotiation between the EU and the UK to reach this point, and I applaud the spirit and determination to find solutions to issues that have previously appeared intractable.
This is an important moment for Northern Ireland and its future. I hope it will also prove a turning point in debate across the UK."