I saved local readers from any attempt at Brexit analysis in my last column of two weeks ago for fear of anything I had to say being hopelessly out of date by the time my column went to print. I was right, with the Speaker of the House of Commons ruling that any further attempt at holding a further vote on an unchanged Withdrawal Agreement could not be put as being ‘out of order’ under Parliamentary precedent dating back to 1604. He was probably correct in this ruling, but what we are seeing is the Speaker exercising Monarchical powers never seen before. We then had the wasteful day of ‘indicative votes’ when the government lost control of the Order Paper, again unprecedented, so that those who want to overturn the referendum result had their day in the sun to set aside that democratic decision that was given, rightly, to the electors of our country.
Parliament was asked on that day to decide on a way forward. All were rejected. The real ‘indicative vote’ was held on 23rd June 2016. It was a fairly close decision nationally, but analysed across Constituencies, over 2/3rds of them decided to leave. If this had been translated into MPs then this would have created the strongest government ever seen. The referendum was far from being an ‘indicative vote’ as it was backed up with very clear words from the government in their leaflet delivered to every household and pushed out at taxpayers’ expense across social media at the time. The words used were profound and unambiguous – “This is your decision. The government will implement what you decide.”
We should not be here, the promise was made that we’d be leaving on 29th March at 11pm UK time. This has now come and gone, and with the refusal of MPs to endorse the Withdrawal Agreement, the new date of departure, unless more shenanigans overturn this, is for departure on 12th April at 11pm, deal or no deal. I was one of those who refused to endorse the Withdrawal Agreement for a third time. Some constituents have emailed me under the false impression that by voting against the ‘deal’, I am against Brexit. This could not be further from the truth – I voted against it for a third time, and consistently so, because this deal is a foul one, and would keep the UK tied indefinitely to all of the aspects of EU membership that underpinned the historic vote: Customs Union membership, Single Market compliance, supremacy of the European Court of Justice and the probable split up of the Union carving out Northern Ireland as ‘different’. I could not, in good conscience, and in deference to the clear instruction given by South Thanet voters, and my 2017 election promises, and my clear position made to you across thousands of letters and emails I’ve sent in replies since, and across the many articles I’ve written, do anything else. Nor would I have wanted to – because I intend to honour what I say, sadly a commodity in all too short supply.
How I wish to get back to Parliament doing the things that you put us there to do – how I wish we could be debating tax, housing, benefits, defence and education and all other important topics that make a real improvement to local lives.
The local election starting gun has been fired and I look forward to meeting many of you on the doorstep over the coming month – it will be a pleasure listening to what you have to say to me. As ever, here to serve.