MEANINGFUL VOTE – BREXIT

My full note to the Stroud News & Journal journalist is here:

With reference to your question about my position on the vote tomorrow, I do not have a vote. I have however set out my approach to Brexit and some queries about our local MP’s incoherent position below:  

(1) I voted to Remain but on losing, I have consistently said that we should roll up our sleeves and get on with implementing the result to leave the EU. I am confident that we will adapt to whatever deal is settled with the EU as we are an able, agile and intelligent country with a bright future.

(2) I stood on a manifesto commitment to honour the referendum result and leave the EU. I feel strongly that this is important and it is incumbent on sitting MPs to find the best possible route for leaving the EU (particularly as Labour also committed to honour the ref. result).

(3) I have serious reservations about holding a second referendum.

I do not believe a second referendum would be in the best interests of the country and it could bring the most divisive campaigning we have ever seen that may not cease on a vote if the result was close or switched to remain. Further, amongst other concerns, I note that the supporters of a second referendum cannot agree between them what the question would be or how they can secure the legislation to achieve a second referendum in good time.

(4) It is widely accepted that a General Election (GE) will not settle the issue of Brexit. Over 80% of the voting electorate in the last GE voted for parties that committed to leaving the EU and there are still arguments now.

My priorities for Stroud and the country are to heal the divides and move forward as swiftly as possible, not least as there are so many domestic matters that should be receiving coverage and parliamentary time. I also want to see a route to leaving the EU that protects UK jobs whilst also seizing on the opportunities presented by the decision to leave.

The only deal on the table is the Prime Minister’s deal and while it is not perfect, I believe the current proposal achieves several important aims and while the Prime Minister is seeking to improve the deal, as it stands it will do the following (it is supported by the NFU, CBI and other business groups on this basis):

– It will give business the certainty that they require to plan and will protect British jobs;

– It will allow Britain to set an independent immigration policy;

– We will stop significant ongoing payments to the EU; and

– We will no longer have to follow all new EU laws unless we decide to.

Therefore, when I consider my priorities for Stroud and the four points above, I believe it becomes absolutely necessary for parliamentarians to vote for a deal and settle this matter as soon as possible.

Local Labour

We are at this juncture due to actions of all the political parties, regardless of what some individuals may claim. All the political parties campaigned for a referendum at some point or other in the last few decades (even the Lib Dems), parliament significantly voted to hold the referendum in the first place and a large majority voted to trigger Article 50. These points were made by a senior Labour MP only this weekend.

David Drew MP’s position on Brexit is very confusing and inconsistent. I trust the local independent press will dig to get to the bottom of this as residents have noticed his muddle on this very important matter. A few points:

David knows Labour cannot force a General Election and in any event, seeking one is not a position on Brexit (although I hope he will be clear about what his position would be on a GE regarding Brexit if he is sticking to that line).  

David stood on a manifesto to leave but as it stands he has ruled out ‘no deal’, he is planning to reject the only deal on the table and Labour has not come up with an alternative. His party leaderships claims they want to ‘renegotiate’ the deal (leave) but this is rejected by a lot of their party and they apparently plan to seek new terms already ruled out by the EU.

David has stated he will never vote for another referendum (SNJ: ’I will never vote for another referendum’ and that a second referendum would be like ‘blood letting’). Given these comments to the people of Stroud, he should resign his shadow minister role to avoid pursuing a second referendum if Labour move to that position.

Wider views

It is worth noting that there is no one view about how to proceed with Brexit in Stroud, the Valleys and Vale. I receive emails dealing with every perceived ‘option’ and they range from wanting to leave without a deal, accept the current deal, seek a second referendum, oppose a second referendum at all costs and more recently a few emails seeking to overturn the referendum result. Brexit does not come up on the doorsteps very often but if it does, again the views vary wildly.

What does come up regularly on the doorsteps is a frustration over sitting MPs squabbling and playing games to suit their own agenda.

Overwhelmingly people are expecting MPs to find a way through this matter. I think they are right.