The fact remains that a majority of voters in the United Kingdom – 17.4 million people – voted to leave the EU when given the choice in 2016 in a free and fair referendum, with Fylde voting to leave by a greater majority than nationally.
In the last three years Parliament has received two instructions from British voters. In the 2016 referendum, the British people told MPs to get us out of the EU and the General Election a year later returned 589 MPs who promised in their manifestos to deliver Brexit – a promise I have been trying desperately hard to honour. I have voted consistently to deliver on this result and I oppose a second referendum. Parliament has, of course, rejected a second referendum on two previous occasions. Staying in the bloc would betray the trust of voters in politicians.
I did not like every aspect of the former Prime Minister’s deal, at the time, I believed it to be the best opportunity for the UK to finally leave the EU as soon as possible. This would have allowed us to leave the EU, to make our own trade deals with countries around the world, give us complete control over our borders once again, and return power to the British people. Other options, such as Labour’s proposals for a permanent customs union, would leave us permanently tied to the EU’s laws and regulations with no say in their creation, and deliver none of the benefits of leaving. Such a scenario would, I believe, represent the worst possible outcome and I will not support proposals that seek to achieve this.
It should not be forgotten, however, that the Conservatives do not have a majority in the House of Commons. If all those MPs who promised to honour the result of the referendum during the 2017 General Election – including the vast majority of Labour MPs – had stuck to their promises, this would not have been an issue and we would have left by now. It is bitterly disappointing that those members of the opposition have chosen to try and delay, or indeed stop, Brexit altogether.
We all need to accept that there is no one deal that will please everyone, and that once we have left, we can revisit any issues as we forge ahead in full control of our own affairs. I’m pleased to see that some of my colleagues have now recognised this position, which I have held for some months.
I am also opposed to taking a no deal Brexit off the table or asking the EU for any further extensions to Article 50. Whether you want a no deal Brexit or not, telling the EU we will definitely accept a deal means we lose our biggest bargaining chip, and give far more strength to the EU’s arm.
Going forward, I will continue to support measures that enable the UK to leave on or before the new Brexit deadline of 31st October 2019, and deliver the result of the 2016 referendum which we have consistently promised voters we would do. This will allow the country to focus on addressing other national priorities such as the NHS, education and housing. Further uncertainty in a second vote would be damaging for business, citizens and public discourse.