The last few days have not surprisingly produced significant interest in the Brexit debate before this week’s expected vote in Parliament.
My correspondents remain completely divided along these lines: those who voted to Leave in the Referendum have written to say they that leave means leave, and that by and large they would leave regardless of a deal or not; many who voted to Remain support largely a second vote, or the abandonment of Article 50. I have also had a number of representations to support the Prime Minister’s position and the deal she has agreed with the EU.
Almost no one has suggested that their position has changed, or that they would vote differently if they had the opportunity.
Almost all my correspondents understandably ask me to represent their views, some more forcibly than others.
Whilst understanding that many constituents have not contacted me directly, I see nothing to persuade me against a view that my constituency remains completely divided on this issue, and that opinions on all sides are strong, perhaps more so than in 2016.
It is impossible for me to represent all shades of opinion. We are either in the EU, or out. These positions are not reconcilable. So I must make my choices, informed by all constituents, but also my own judgement as to what is right for NE Bedfordshire and the country.
Let me restate these. I campaigned to remain in the EU. At public meetings I made clear that I would accept the result whatever it was. I would respect a Leave decision, but I also made clear that there was no blueprint in that vote, and that Parliament would have to decide the terms on which we left.
I have sought to honour this. I voted to trigger Article 50. I am now prepared to vote for the U.K. to accept the Withdrawal Deal negotiated by the PM. For someone who regrets leaving the EU, this is done because I believe there is a better chance of the U.K. coming to a more consensual position on the European issue if I do so. I wish more of my colleagues would share that view. Repeating endlessly the debate about ‘in or out’ will consume the next generation. Trying a new relationship, where we are out of the EU, which respects the Leave vote, but keeps us trading on a reasonable basis and with a good relationship with the EU going forward, seems to me the sort of balanced position that those who support the EU might also accept.
I will accept such a compromise, the deal as put forward or some amendment of it if that seems likely to command Parliamentary support. I remain unconvinced that leaving with no deal, or having a second vote are currently better options.
Thank you for your engagement. I fully accept that my position and vote will affect my support in the constituency, but that is immaterial in relation to the issue. I am doing what I believe is correct both in respect of my own views and beliefs, and respecting the many different positions put to me by constituents.
Whatever happens, March 29th is not life and death for the U.K. and the EU. We will both go on afterwards. What is more important is that the issues with which we all will have to deal - from a changing world; from the health, education and employment needs of our own people; from violence and external threats; from advances in technologies with their many consequences; from the world’s increasing population; from climate change and the environment; for opportunities to a younger generation and the need to ensure greater recognition of those who feel left adrift at home and around the world from governments and political institutions struggling to deliver- it is important that these issues are tackled by the U.K. and the EU in concert where we can, and where not, that we have respect for each other’s differences.