It’s fair to say, this has been the busiest & most turbulent week in Westminster I have experienced as a Member of Parliament.
Ahead of Tuesday’s vote on the Brexit deal, I took the opportunity to get off the Parliamentary Estate to see some of the campaigners from both sides of the debate who you’ll have seen camped near where the television broadcasts are made.
The angry, unacceptable actions of a tiny minority who threatened people last week had gone. It was good natured, vibrant, funny (in parts!) and despite all that we see in the news, it really did show the best side of our democracy.
On the same evening, MPs decided not to support the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal. As local residents will know, like the majority of people in Swindon I backed Leave at the referendum, and at every stage I have voted in Parliament to deliver Brexit.
Throughout the process I have spoken with residents & businesses on both sides of the debate to ensure that their ideas & concerns shaped the deal on the table.
The deal was pragmatic and sought to deliver our exit from the EU in an orderly way. It did; end vast payments to the EU, enable new trade deals, support key industries (hence Honda and BMW’s support), restore control of our own borders & end free movement, allow security co-operation, and return control of laws to the UK Parliament.
I was disappointed, but not surprised to see some MPs who want to delay, frustrate or ultimately block Brexit cheering when the deal was defeated.
Following the result, the Prime Minister has rightly acted quickly to try to secure the widest support from across the House of Commons for a new deal which would see us honour the referendum result; inviting all party leaders and senior parliamentarians to meet with her.
Despite calling for cross-party talks, the minute the Prime Minister reached out and offered this to Jeremy Corbyn, he declined. He’s also admitted to still not knowing what Labour’s Brexit policy is; all the while trying to use this pivotal moment in our country’s history as a power grab for himself. This is disgraceful and I hope the Labour leader realises quickly that the decisions we need to take are of national importance, not in his own self-interest.
To their credit, the leaders of every other party in the House of Commons agreed and met the Prime Minister immediately.
My inbox is full of residents on both sides who want MPs to settle this issue once and for all. As you read this, we are just 70 days from leaving the EU.
My colleagues need to focus, otherwise we risk failing to deliver on the instruction we received in 2016. MPs need to stop saying what they don’t want, and be clear on what they do want. They need to put forward sensible, negotiable ideas which honour the referendum result and can be delivered.
If we say this is all too hard and MPs try to pursue another referendum, it’s clear from my conversations with local residents that the response will be “we voted to leave, didn’t you hear us the first time”
If we fail to deliver Brexit, trust in our politics will fall lower still. Now is the time to come together in the national interest & deliver for the people.