132018Dec

Weekly column 13.12.18

I wrote this article on the day the PM faces a no confidence vote. I am confident she will win – to swap horses mid-race would be disastrous. This vote is not about who leads the Conservatives into the next election, but it is about whether it makes sense to change leaders at this vital point in the Brexit negotiations. Quite frankly it is a distraction when we should be focusing on delivering Brexit.

The Prime Minister is in the middle of trying to secure changes to address concerns about the backstop – concerns that I have raised. I have also been feeding in the concerns I have received from constituents. I am delighted that the Prime Minister is seeking changes and we need to give her some time to bat for Britain and deliver.

It is easy to shout from the side-lines about delivering Brexit but the reality is harder. Any deal or no deal (following an amendment passed) must gain Parliament’s approval. Parliament is divided on Brexit. In fact, the majority support a very soft Brexit, potentially like the Norway model.

This would be a complete capitulation of the referendum result and include the continuation of annual fees and free movement with no say. So we must be very careful that we do not end up with a halfway house that gives us less control and say than when we began. I do want to reassure you that I am passionate about the need to deliver Brexit but I am also realistic about how we can achieve this.

I want to address the question of a People’s Vote. Another referendum would only deepen the divisions we have in our country. It is one thing to call for a referendum on the deal or a no deal but the People’s Vote campaign calls for remain to be on the ballot, which would ride roughshod over democracy and cause anarchy on the streets.

The referendum ballot paper presented voters with an unambiguous choice to remain or to leave.The government also sent a document to every household clarifying what the benefits of remaining were and it clearly stated that the will of the people would be enacted.

It is also important to remember that both main political parties pledged in their General Election 2017 manifestos to respect the EU referendum result and, combined, they received more than 80 per cent of the vote.

MPs from across the political spectrum then voted 494 to 122 in favour of invoking Article 50 in 2017. This means that legally we must leave the EU.

It is important to ensure that the deal works for the 48 per cent who voted to remain and our businesses who are our employers and job creators, however we are leaving and we have to leave.