12 FEB 2017

Brexit - moving forward

I had a message from a constituent that they were going to 'punish' the Government for its actions over 'now supporting Brexit' by voting for another political party at the next election – in 2020 long after we have left the EU!  The idea of using one's vote to punish a Government seems to me to be one of the most undemocratic things a voter could do.

Surely choosing our next Government should be a positive choice of which manifesto is better suited to the UK, of which is likely to move the UK on successfully; of which leader is best for the country; and of which Party is likely to deliver on their promises? But, if a democratic vote is sadly used to seek to punish this Government, the question then is punish them for what? Punish them for not kicking democracy in the teeth and accepting that on June 23rd a democratic decision was made? What this voter seems to have ignored is that it was the Liberal-Democrats who had the biggest proportional rebellion over this issue in the House of Commons when two of their 9 members refused to vote with their leader to oppose the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill.  A rebellion small in numbers perhaps but significant in terms of the PR they are trying to generate from it.

You can only argue about the decision which was reached in the Referendum by re-running the arguments used in it. But I cannot see the point of that. To argue on the basis of somewhat bogus statistics that this was not a proper decision is reminiscent of some of the false promises used in the Referendum. Rather, what this voter should be doing is helping to shape the legislation which is now coming forward. He should be working to move us on rather than trying to change the past.

Or take the constituent who argues that I do not understand my duty as an MP because I could have honourably resisted the vote in the House of Commons. Honourably resisted what? – the democratic will expressed in the Referendum? And why is it 'honourable' to do this?

Take too the notion that I should have voted against the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill because the constituency voted Remain. The suggestion this makes that the Referendum was not a national referendum but one based on a unit which wasn't even used for counting the votes – namely the constituency – is not that different to the dubious statistics that characterised the Referendum itself. This was a national Referendum and the counting areas were district council areas. It is also irrelevant.  The referendum was run, the vote cast and we Remainers lost. Again, we need to move on.

Second, just when did the people of this constituency vote on the idea that the Prime Minister should be deprived of the right to be able to trigger Article 50 at a time of her own choosing? That is all the Bill did. It put the clock back to a time before the Supreme Court judgement. And all this, of course, ignores all the arguments about whether MPs are delegates or representatives.

A decision was made on June 23rd. We now just need to get on with delivering it. This is not a time for re-running the Referendum and it is not a time for wasting a vote on a futile exercise in punishment.

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