06 Dec Open Letter to the people of the Bracknell Constituency: Why I will not be supporting the Brexit ‘deal’
In January 2019, my fellow MPs and I will be faced with the most important vote in the House of Commons in a generation – whether to vote for or against the Government’s Brexit deal in the so-called ‘meaningful vote’. I will not be supporting the ‘deal’, and I want to set out why to the residents and businesses of the Bracknell constituency:
As a Member of Parliament my first priority and duty is to my constituency; I am charged with exercising my own judgement in the best interests of my constituents. I take this duty incredibly seriously. I sit as a Conservative but I am the MP for all of my constituents, regardless of political affiliation. I am not beholden to any particular faction, campaign or vested interest and I have a responsibility to think and act in the long-term local and national interest.
As we approach the meaningful vote, I look back to June this year when, after months of hard thinking and soul searching, I took the difficult decision to resign from the Government over its approach to Brexit, becoming the first Minister to do so. Many others have since followed my lead.
It was not an easy decision and I have taken little satisfaction in witnessing what I predicted, and feared, at that time come to pass. I spoke then about the likelihood that that any deal we struck would leave us in the worst of both worlds – bound to the EU but with few of the benefits of full membership. I foresaw there would be no majority in Parliament for any outcome and I felt sure we would face a constitutional crisis.
My concerns were dismissed inside Government and so I decided that I could not honourably serve whilst holding these views. I returned to the back benches to campaign for increased Parliamentary scrutiny, the extension of the Article 50 period and to settle the issue by giving the people a final say on the deal.
I feel sure that this Brexit agreement is bad for our country:
* It poses a real threat to the future of our home union
* It risks holding back our economy, and with it the amount of money we can invest into our public services
* It means we will be bound by many of the rules of the EU with no say over them.
* We will leave the EU in March with very little idea of what our future relationship will be and with our negotiating leverage much diminished.
This ‘blindfold’ Brexit is not what people voted for in 2016 and I feel it would be tantamount to political fraud to foist it on the nation without first seeking their permission.
Crucially, neither ‘remainers’ nor ‘leavers’ support this deal.
That is why I believe that we should all have the opportunity to give our informed consent, or not, now we know what Brexit will actually entail. This is not about ignoring the 2016 Referendum. This is the only democratic and fair way out of the situation in which we find ourselves.
If, with all the facts to hand, people give their blessing to this deal then the UK will leave the European Union, as planned.
Whatever happens over the coming weeks and months, I feel confident in stating that a ‘no deal’ scenario will never come to pass. Responsible Parliamentarians, and indeed the Prime Minister, would never allow us to crash out of the EU with no safety net. That would be the ultimate act of national self-harm.
On a personal note, I understand and acknowledge that many people will dislike and disagree with the approach I have taken. But I hope that most will recognise I have acted honourably and honestly, with the best of intentions. Indeed, the level of support I have received from local people in the last few months has humbled me – thank you.
Whether in or out of the EU, I sincerely hope we can come together as a constituency and a country and agree to address the issues that drove the Brexit vote in 2016, including economic insecurity, cultural dislocation, the impact of immigration and the democratic deficit.
I will take no pleasure in going against my own Government and Party in voting against this bad Brexit deal, but I feel my democratic duty to my country, and to you, my constituents, must always come first.