25 MAR 2019

Brexit response

I am writing this response in view of the emails I have received on a number of subjects to do with Brexit from the revocation of article 50 to a People's Vote. There are a number of points I would like to make.

First, I fully understand the frustration and the anger over Brexit. I can understand why people think it has been going on for too long. More people have come up to me and simply asked for it all to end than have supported a particular path for us to follow. I too feel this. The EU Deal I have supported seems to me to marry the result of the Referendum with the clear wish of the 48% who voted to Remain to have a close relationship with the EU. Yet in this topsy turvy world, in voting for the deal I have voted more often to leave than many of the Leavers, whose objection is that it is not the deal they wanted. The inability to compromise is much to be regretted.

Why I have voted for the deal

I have voted for the deal because I think it is important to honour the pledge we gave at the election in 2017 that we would implement the result of the referendum. The Labour party made the same pledge. I also voted for the deal because I feel it will be provide certainty for business especially small and medium sized businesses and generally be supportive of them. This is notwithstanding my original vote to Remain – a vote I lost.

As I said in the House of Commons I am less and less interested in hypothetical solutions to this problem. If the Leavers really wanted to ensure Brexit happened they should, in an act of compromise, accept the Prime Minister's Deal. That would give us two years to argue over what the relationship between us and the EU should contain.

The role of the Conservative Party

Second, I am frustrated with those who blame all this on the Conservative Party's inability to get Brexit through. We do not have a majority in the House of Commons. A Prime Minister does not work on the basis of simply being able to instruct that an outcome should happen. He or she needs to involve Parliament, the more so since Parliament took the power to decide in a Meaningful Vote to ratify the deal. So those who are disappointed that the Prime Minister has not been able to achieve a result are fooling themselves into believing that she has powers she clearly does not.

A People's Vote

Thirdly, the idea that there should be a People's Vote was defeated in the House of Commons overwhelmingly. It may be that in the coming days this is an idea that will have its day. But frankly I do not welcome it. Given the arguments that have taken place over the first referendum and with both sides still not being entirely frank about life after the referendum, I cannot see that it will be any less divisive and confrontational or that it will be any more honest. I also cannot see in these circumstances that it will be the final referendum, or, how a Remain result would be compatible with the original result.

The referendum is still being fought

Finally, the referendum has simply never finished. For over two years now we have still been fighting the same referendum campaign. Many people do not accept the result and have done everything they can to try to undo it. A good example of this is all those who asked me not to support the deal because to do so would bring nearer us staying in the EU or those who are calling for a revocation of Article 50. The way in which this campaign has twisted and turned bringing everything within its sights is part of the problem we face. A second referendum is also part of this.

The role of an MP

As Speaker Bercow said in the House of Commons, as MPs we each must do "what he or she thinks is right," confirming that we are Representatives and not delegates. The desperate struggle of those who voted Remain to try to cajole me into voting against the deal on the grounds that it meets how they think the constituency voted ignores the fact that this was a national vote on a national basis and not one based on constituencies. No one knows how this constituency voted; the statistical methodology has flaws, and, few take into account the 6,000 people who live in the constituency in Cherwell which voted to Leave.

Problems with No Deal

I see the problem with the No Deal scenario as not being in terms of whether we accept WTO rules of trade or not but in the enduring uncertainty it would bring to the country and the way in which it would keep us tied up in wrangling with the EU.

Last chance

We now have one last chance to get the deal through. It is not perfect by any means. But it does allow us to move forward and to begin the task of negotiating the relationship we want with the EU. I shall, if offered the chance, be taking it.

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