In light of the developments we have seen over the last few days I am writing to update constituents so you can have the fullest picture of my position on Brexit.
I continue to receive hundreds of pieces of correspondence be it by phone, email or letter on this fraught debate which, as I have said before, makes it impossible for me to individually respond to each constituent.
As ever, the correspondence I receive is mixed, in line with the referendum result in Reigate. I appreciate that not every constituent will therefore agree with my views, but I hope these updates help clarify my position as your MP and provide you with a useful an update.
I will continue to post blogs such as this one, as significant developments arise. If you are a constituent of mine and would like to receive an email when a new post is uploaded, please let me know on firstname.lastname@example.org.
On delivering the referendum result.
I count myself as bound at least four times over to deliver the referendum result. The referendum was promised in the 2013 Conservative manifesto on which I was elected along with a Conservative majority. We then legislated to deliver it, and were explicit the result would be decisive and binding on us as Parliamentarians. We then voted in March 2017 to give formal notice of the UK’s decision to leave. At the election in 2017 I was re-elected, along with over 80% of my Parliamentary colleagues in all parties to deliver on the referendum result. The people chose to leave and the result of the referendum must be respected, even if it was unexpected. The ballot paper presented voters with an unambiguous choice to remain in the EU or to leave.
Collectively, the 2017 Parliament insists it wants to leave the EU but it has voted against every option to enable that way forward. In failing to implement the direct democratic choice of this country, Parliament is pushing the public’s patience dangerously close to the limit, scornfully playing a political game in contempt of the people it serves.
Faced with a Remainer Parliament aided and abetted by a Speaker who has torn up centuries of precedent, it must be right to bring this paralysis to a conclusion. The principal damage to Britain’s interests is now being done by the uncertainty around the future. The Prime Minister is right in pursuing a clear Brexit deadline of 31st October. Three years on and no end in sight, this approach focuses negotiators minds to find the best way to leave (you can read my position on the Withdrawal Agreement and on a WTO Brexit here), provides business and service providers certainty and allows the debate to move on to other areas of policy. It allows the country to finally begin to heal and come together once again.
Prorogation, the Executive and Parliament.
The current Parliamentary session is the longest for nearly 400 years and it is already long overdue that a new government programme should be presented. Since we have a new administration under Boris Johnson following the resignation of Theresa May, that requirement is overwhelming. The prorogation ordered by Her Majesty on her Government’s advice is entirely normal, if horribly late.
To say this approach is a deliberate attempt to bypass Parliament is simply untrue. It hasn’t stopped Parliament undermining the nation’s EU negotiating position or refusing twice to resolve the impasse between government and legislature with an early election. Quite what has been lost in the six sitting days forgone before the 14th October escapes me. If Parliament does not have confidence in the Government’s strategy, it should vote so and force an election or a change of government if a majority could be found. Otherwise, it should let the Government fulfil its duty to both run the country and deliver the result which the people voted for.
The consequences of the legislature dictating to the Queen’s Government in this way are grave. First, through the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill 2017-19 Parliament has effectively ended the possibility of improving the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement and forced Britain to request an extension from the EU without knowledge of whether that extension would be granted by the EU and any demands attached to it. As the Prime Minister rightly describes it, this bill is a national surrender engineered by those determined to further frustrate Britain’s departure. Indeed, if the essence of the issue is truly the possibility of leaving to WTO rules and not an attempt by MPs to find a politically acceptable excuse to derail leaving, then Parliament had the opportunity to not support the extension to October 31st in its current format six months ago. The Government’s negotiating position has been demolished from within and has done both the citizens of the UK and EU damage, as the interests of the EU as an institution, punishing the UK for the temerity to leave have come before the citizens they represent.
Second, by simultaneously not permitting a General Election either, Parliament has denied Government the ability to function. Alarmingly, Britain has now entered a period where it is at the mercy of a Parliament acting against the instructions it received from the British people.
The future of the Conservative Party.
It has filled me with regret to see Conservative colleagues lose the whip, but I support the Prime Minister in his aims. Our central objective must be to deliver Brexit and respect the result of the referendum. Failure to deliver Brexit would wreak incalculable harm on the centre right of British politics for decades.
Indeed, earlier in May, I predicted that to deliver this request from the British people it would mean to face Parliament on WTO terms and ultimately a General Election if we are to escape the baleful influence of this 2017 Parliament. You can read the full article here: https://www.blunt4reigate.com/news/way-out-mess.
Brexit, as we can see by the results of the referendum, is a cross-party issue that cuts across all sections and dimensions of society and in removing the whip from colleagues who voted against the Government the aim was to restore discipline, not redefine the Conservative Party. I respect those who chose to put our relationship with the EU ahead of our Party’s interest, but the Party has to secure a collective position consistent with the promises we made the electorate in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Supporting the country’s decision to deliver Brexit does not equate to becoming extreme or ‘hard right’. It is delivering on the choice the country took and I will continue to represent constituents in the same way my record for human rights, social justice and freedom shows. Theresa May had the same option available to her but the former Prime Minister chose instead to put MPs in the vice of her deal or no Brexit bringing us to where we are today.
For the country, ending the Brexit psychodrama will see focus return to other key areas of policy and an opportunity to finally deliver on the benefits of our collective decision. For the Conservatives, it will begin the process of healing our differences to regain the confidence of internationalists. One nation values are central to successful Global Britain positioning on open and free trade, rule of law, universal human rights, development, climate change and global stability. We must recover these values and we have a convincing answer to those who voted remain, particularly the young, who may have been misled into thinking Brexit was a statement of narrow nationalism.
For this to happen, it is clear that an election is necessary. The sooner Parliament allows this to happen, the sooner we can begin.