Brexit Blogpost - Crispin Blunt MP
This is my third update on my Brexit blog post, updating my position following latest developments, and providing answers to many contacts following yesterday’s (25th March 2019) statement by the Prime Minister ruling out a “No Deal unless the House agrees to it”, and the subsequent vote in the House taking back control of the Order Paper tomorrow, Wednesday 27th March.
Is No Deal now off the agenda?
I am bitterly disappointed that the PM in terms wrote this option off in a single freestanding sentence of her written statement: “Unless this house agrees to it, no deal will not happen.” There is no clear majority in the House for any option, however, as elected representatives of the electorate on a mandate in 2017, we have to go back to the referendum decision which was a binary choice between stay or leave – and the country chose to leave. Our mandate was to deliver that choice.
I have always been clear that two choices flow from this decision: we either leave with a deal, the terms which the Prime Minister negotiated with the EU, and the EU will not revisit, or we leave with no agreement.
Until the point at which her Withdrawal Agreement was voted down the first time, the Prime Minister was always consistent with this view. We were leaving the EU with a or without a deal. Following that defeat she then introduced an option, the motivation for which and causation can only today be guessed at: her deal, no deal or no Brexit. That gave huge encouragement to those opposed to the whole direction of her stated policy.
Now in removing no deal and leaving the House with her deal or no Brexit, she chose to put the pressure on colleagues and the Conservative Party, about 80-90% of whom are keen for us to leave, on the best terms, which many will judge, in light of what the EU are ready to negotiate, is no agreement.
This dreadful strategy puts the pressure on those trying to Leave the EU – who are working to respect the outcome of the referendum and the election commitment 85% of MPs were returned in 2017 – instead of forcing a Remainer majority House of Commons, to finally accept the country’s decision to leave and face a choice between her deal and no deal. When I canvassed a nationalist MP and a Labour MP yesterday, they both confirmed that if they were put in this position they would have voted for her deal. Indeed, the Nationalist volunteered they needed this political cover.
A binary choice between her deal and no deal would shift the House into a position of finally evaluating the merits of no deal against her deal, making the Labour Party and the Nationalists see if they are prepared to vote consistent with their shallow but hysterical rhetoric of simply saying just how unacceptable no agreement is.
Tactically, it is utterly inept to remove no deal from the table. It has allowed all those on the opposite side of the Commons who spent their time saying just how utterly unacceptable and catastrophic no agreement will be, to continue doing so without proper examination. That falsehood hasn’t been properly challenged. It should be examined and put to the test, and that binary decision is the only way the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement could get over the line.
I have explained in my previous blogs (which you can read here: https://www.blunt4reigate.com/news/crispins-brexit-blog-post and https://www.blunt4reigate.com/news/brexit-update-crispin-blunt-mp) why I judge no deal to be infinitely better than her Withdrawal Agreement. I have also referenced the thorough examination of the implications of leaving with no agreement that the Foreign Affairs Committee I chaired in the last parliament carried out last Parliament. The final report of this review can be found here: https://bit.ly/2Lejezc.
What the Prime Minister simply doesn’t seem to grasp is the authority at her disposal as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Especially as she is now so close to the line. It’s within her gift to deliver Brexit – as it has been her stated intention 108 times that we were leaving this week – by making Parliament face up to that binary choice. It's why her statement was so incredibly disappointing yesterday.
The current imposition of indicative votes presenting other alternatives to the binary choice between her deal and no deal allows this Remainer Parliament to run away into the weeds of alternative choices when instead she should have positioned all MPs in the vice of that binary choice. That is consistent with the referendum outcome.
Except for those MPs who made their opposition to honouring the result of the Referendum clear, MPs have a contract with the people which was represented by the terms the manifesto on which they stood to get elected in 2017 – to get Brexit done.
As I explain above, the only way you get Brexit done is either by accepting the terms of her agreement or leave the EU with no agreement. MPs need to come to a view as to which is the best option to deliver Brexit.
Where we are now going is allowing the Remainers in Parliament, who represent three quarters of MPs, to wriggle away from that choice. Surprise, surprise, given the chance they are. But that means both the Prime Minister is not honouring her repeated ad infinitum commitment to deliver Brexit when she is entitled to rely on the commitment that 85% of us gave to our electorates in 2017. Simply, this Parliament is in breach of contract with the electorate.
I believe the PM should use the powers of her office to force that binary choice between her deal and no deal. She would be throwing down the gauntlet to Parliament and present MPs with the choice on which they were elected.
They are constitutionally entitled to vote no confidence in the Prime Minister’s government and remove her from office. Then there would either be a General Election or a situation where MPs who removed her from office could choose to support Jeremy Corbyn in a coalition Government to do the opposite of what we were elected. I don’t think that option would be to palatable to all current Conservative MPs, quite apart from all the opposition MPs who know Jeremy Corbyn is not equipped to be the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
It has always been my view that whatever the decision was of the British electorate in the referendum, we should properly commit to that decision. If as I had expected, we had voted remain, I would have issued a joint statement with the chairman of the German Foreign Affairs Committee the Monday after the Referendum result to say that we now had to get more serious about European defence and recognise that we were on a path to greater integration and that we needed to help the EU as an institution to properly work. But the British people didn’t take that decision. They decided to leave. And if we’re going to leave, we must take advantage of the opportunities that that presents, not cower in anxiety in face of the challenge. Trapping ourselves in the trade and regulatory policy of the EU and outside its political institutions is as stupid a compromise as could be envisaged. If the Government takes any notice of these indicative votes that’s where we will be. I will not be joining them down that road.
Crispin Blunt MP