Brexit

***General Election Update***

Want to know my view on Brexit? Take a look at the above video

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In the 2016 EU referendum, I campaigned and voted for Remain. I believed that the UK’s best interests were served as a member state of the EU. Yet on that day, I lost that argument. In the largest democratic process in the UK’s history, a majority voted to leave the EU. I must admit, on hearing the result, I was extremely disappointed. I reflected on whether if different arguments had been used or campaigning had operated in a different way, we could have turned the result around. But regardless of what might have been, I had to accept that the Leave campaign had won the day.

For any Government, the path ahead of them was now a tight-rope. I strongly believe that any party in Government after that vote would have to pursue a withdrawal agreement to see the UK leave the EU. Yet with a result of 52% to 48% a large minority would oppose efforts to remove the UK from the EU. At the same time ‘Leave’ was not a binary choice – multiple different forms of leaving the EU would be open for negotiation. It would then be inevitable that many Leave voters may not endorse the ‘version’ of Leave arrived at.

With all of that said – I believe the Government has to pursue a deal, and so it has. I look forward to seeing the detail of this in due course. I sincerely hope it can deliver on the result of the referendum whilst supporting international trade and avoiding a hard border in Ireland. I expect that this may require an extension to the transition period to ensure that there is enough time for a free trade agreement to be negotiated and to avoid moving to a ‘backstop’ scenario.

As Brexit continues to dominate our political landscape, it is tempting to look at the ‘People’s Vote’ campaign, which lobbies to have a second referendum which would include an option to Remain. As someone who personally voted to Remain this conjures up the same temptations that I discussed at the start of this article – that the Remain campaign could ‘learn from our mistakes’ and ‘win the debate this time around’. Yet on reflection I can’t see how such a vote could genuinely work. The vote would need to present 3 options; ‘No Deal’, the ‘Negotiated Deal’ and ‘Remain’. That then effectively splits the Leave vote. We could then have a result where Remain achieves 40% of the result, but the other options receive broadly 30% each. Then what? Is that a mandate to remain in the EU? Or is it a mandate to tweak the negotiated deal?  Such a vote, whilst aiming to have a final say on the UK’s relationship with the EU would then deliver only more political division and uncertainty.

Ultimately, whilst I personally voted to Remain, I have to accept that the country voted to leave the EU. That vote must have meaning and I do not want to live in a country where such votes are ignored by its Government. If I were your MP, I would then be campaigning hard to secure a deal that delivered on the referendum, whilst securing a collaborative relationship with our long-standing trading partners and allies. Whilst we are leaving the EU, there is certainly no reason to leave Europe.