Brexit and the concept of a Second Referendum
In short, my position on Brexit is that I believe the referendum result should be honoured and we should leave the European Union (EU) at the earliest opportunity. I would prefer to leave with a deal but if that is not possible, we should leave without a deal.
By way of background, I campaigned for Remain but when my side lost, I felt that we should leave the European Union and honour the referendum result.
I stood on doorsteps during the referendum telling people that it was a once in a generation vote and the government would implement the result. This was repeated in leaflets and by leading campaigners. The campaign was messy on both sides but it was a democratic vote where people answered the question put to them. The turn out was incredibly high.
Since June 2016, a massive majority of MPs signed up to implement the referendum result by voting for Article 50. The main party MPs subsequently stood on manifestos saying they would leave the EU and commanded over 80% of the vote in the general election in 2017. People were therefore told repeatedly that we would leave the EU.
I think all of this is important. Trust in politics and politicians is low enough without breaching even basic promises and ignoring basic fairness of implementing a winning result.
Many businesses and people have told me that the uncertainty they are facing from years of indecision in Parliament is more damaging for them than any type of Brexit or no deal. They need a decision so they can plan for their staff, customers and families.
I do not believe that Brexit being difficult or unpopular with some is an excuse for MPs failing to find a way to move this forward and play games to suit their agenda of the day. We have seen many MPs constantly voting for what they do not want and being unable to persuade the House to create a majority for alternatives (such as a second referendum or ignoring the referendum result entirely).
Fairness will not be felt if MPs stop Brexit and I really worry about the impact of this on Stroud and the country - particularly for people who had not voted before. I find it appalling that Leave voters are regularly told they did not understand what they voted for as an reason to overturn the result. Most people I met during the campaign had clear reasons why they were voting for Leave or Remain.
My experience on the doorsteps in Stroud, the Valleys and Vale in the last year is that not many people have changed their mind since 2016. I have not seen national polling on the matter recently though.
The Labour led opposition parties recent efforts to delay decisions on Brexit for three months or longer helps nobody and a future extension request may not even be accepted by the EU Commission. They have not stopped ’no deal’. They keep proposing to delay making a decision and say they want to 'renegotiate' the deal then campaign against their own deal in a second referendum. I cannot understand how anybody can support this approach. It is a recipe for more uncertainty, division and expense to the country.
For the avoidance of doubt, I would not back wrecking or delay amendments to the Prime Minister’s deal. I would not have voted for the Benn Act (referred to as the Surrender Bill) or the Letwin amendment. I would vote with the government to get the first stage of Brexit done without more delay.
In essence, I believe we have reached a time that requires decisive firm action about Brexit while loudly shouting about our belief in the abilities of our people in Stroud and the wider country to thrive. Similarly, I believe it is only once the first stage of Brexit is concluded that people will not begin to heal frustrations, hurts or divisions.
Boris Johnson MP is doing his best to get Brexit done against all efforts to stop it and focus on the country’s many other priorities such as the NHS, education and police. He has my support.
Please keep an eye on my webste and facebook for more Brexit updates.
31st October 2019
LET’S TALK ABOUT – THE SECOND REFERENDUM PROPOSAL
Most people want a resolution to Brexit. If Brexit is raised on the doorsteps when I am canvassing now, it is usually with people telling me that they are fed up with the shenanigans in parliament and that they want to move on. Importantly, we need to complete the first stage of Brexit so that we can all focus properly on huge pressing matters like the environment, NHS, education and policing.
While I respect people’s views about wanting a second referendum, I do not agree it is the right way forward.
It is a travesty that the original referendum result has not been implemented after three years and that throws up so many problems for people on either side of the debate. My reasons for not supporting a second referendum are below. They are in no particular order and they are not exhaustive.
- Businesses tell me that they want to see an end to the uncertainty caused by indecision in parliament and people are completely fed up with the issue. Most people want to see a swift resolution of the first (divorce) stage so we can move on. I cannot therefore sign up to what is likely to be more than six months of waiting for a second referendum.
- House of Commons officials have said it will take at least six months to organise legislation for a second referendum once parliamentarians have agreed the terms. Sadly, we have seen that Parliament struggles to agree on anything at the moment so the timeline is likely to be longer and fraught.
- MPs have yet to convince me that another referendum will solve the impasse, indeed they have yet to convince each other as there is currently not a majority in the House for the proposal. This is why they have not pushed the matter in recent weeks after the Prime Minister secured a new deal with the EU (October 2019) saying ‘it was not the right time’ (when will be if an agreed deal is not a trigger to try!?).
- The people running the People’s Vote/second referendum/confirmatory vote cannot agree what the campaign is called or what they want, let alone agree between them what the question will be.
- Some parties want to change the voting electorate to include 16 year olds and/or EU residents, thus rendering it entirely different from the first vote and lending to claims of unfairness for ever more regardless of what the result is.
- Some parliamentarian second referendum campaigners have said openly they would refuse to implement the result if Leave was to win again so there is no trust that a second referendum would be a final vote.
- I fear we would see the most outrageously divisive campaign on record. The last one was difficult enough and as you know, the reality of political campaigning is that even the most interesting details get boiled down into slogans and sound bites.
- I do not want to see another referendum agreed in Scotland. If another referendum is granted, the Scottish Nationalists will demand a Scottish referendum.
- I campaigned for remain and stood on doorsteps for weeks all over the country trying to convince people that we were better to stay with the EU. I told people things like we would tip into recession if Leave won and there was never going to be a European army amongst other things we were all told at the time and have turned out to be untrue. It was not just the Leave campaign that can be criticised for their campaign.
- In 2016 I found most people had made up their mind already and once my side lost I decided we should honour the result. I still feel the same. Where there is disagreement about how to move forward, there is a basic sense of fairness in implementing a winning side and an unfairness in making the Leave side have to win again.
- My experience on the doorsteps in Stroud since summer 2016 is that not many people have changed their mind about the EU. I have not seen polling on the matter recently though.
It is my view that leaving the EU with a deal in an orderly fashion is the optimal solution to Brexit but if a deal cannot be reached, we should still leave following enhanced preparations to do so. The Conservatives are united on this stance and at the time of writing, the Prime Minister received the first clear majority on a Brexit vote when the deal was put to MPs on the second reading (22nd October 2019).