22017Feb

Riding roughshod over democracy is not an option

I sit here writing this in the midst of history in the making – the debate that will trigger Article 50. As you will know I voted remain and before the referendum I wrote a 12 page document to explain my personal view. In essence, my decision boiled down to the fact that I didn’t think it was the right time to leave based on our economy, given that we were still recovering from a relatively recent recession. I was not prepared to gamble our local jobs. However the vote on Article 50 is different in one way – it is not my decision. I have a duty as democrat and fundamentally as a Member of Parliament to carry out the will of the people. That is why by the time you read this I will have voted to trigger Article 50.

Michelle Donelan’s column in the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald 02 Feb 17

I have not changed my mind and yes I sympathise with those who still want us to vote down Article 50 but it is important to remember that the referendum was in my party’s manifesto – the one I was elected on, I then voted with cross party members in parliament to have a referendum and promised voters that we would honour the result. Time and time again it was made abundantly clear that the result of the referendum would be final – ‘no ifs and no buts.’ To do otherwise would be to ‘ride roughshod over democracy’ and destroy what is left of the British public’s faith in politicians.

It is patronising to claim that people did not understand what they were voting for. It is not for MPs to say that our view of ‘what is in the national interest’ is worth more than yours, especially when we gave you the decision.

Referendums, like elections, need to be carried out to uphold democracy. Every time a party wins a general election who we have not voted for we probably believe that having them in power is not ‘in the national interest’ but we don’t question the legitimacy of the result and ask for re runs until we get the answer that we wanted. The referendum should be no different.

Wiltshire voted out but counts were done county wide, so we do not have data for Chippenham constituency – we believe from watching at the count that it was very very marginally remain. Regardless, this was a decision for our country, by our country and not a regional or constituency based vote.

This vote is not about the details – that will come with the white paper, further debates, the Great Repeal Bill and many votes. This vote is about starting that process – yes we could spend several more weeks speculating about what we might be able to negotiate but that won’t change the referendum result which makes leaving the EU inevitable. Our economy and businesses now need certainty – the last thing they need is another referendum. Now is the time to get on with the job, be positive and work together to get the best deal for Britain.