Last week, I held a public meeting on Brexit in Towcester for my constituents so that I could provide an update about what has been happening in Westminster, and so that they could ask me questions on all aspects of our withdrawal from the European Union.
It was a lively debate, with most questions focusing on the PM’s negotiated deal with the EU, alternatives to her deal, and a no deal Brexit.
With 150 people attending, I started the 90 minute meeting by setting out some general thoughts on where we are with Brexit, and talking through some of the issues and the next steps. You can watch these opening remarks below.
The questions included a number on the importance of democracy and respecting the democratic will of the people as expressed during the referendum. I was particularly glad to have the opportunity to respond to one man’s concerns about being able to explain to his children that the referendum result had been overridden, and I made clear that we are doing everything we can to make sure we make progress on a deal that does respect the will of the referendum. We all know that people want certainty about their futures, including EU citizens who have made their home here, UK citizens who live in the EU, businesses, and people who are worried about their jobs. Whilst MPs have expressed very real concerns with the proposed deal, the Prime Minister is now trying to identify what would be required to secure the backing of MPs, whilst still being consistent with the result of the referendum and leaving the EU. MPs have to identify what they do want, rather than what they don’t, and they will have the opportunity to do this in a couple of days when we have the votes on the amendable motion on Tuesday.
There were also questions on why we aren’t just leaving on WTO terms, and why we are paying £39bn to the EU. To be clear, no deal is not the ideal solution that some portray it to be, and it is in nobody’s interests. It would harm both the UK and the EU’s economies in the short term, and uncertainty about our future would only increase, damaging confidence of businesses and of the public. The Government is working to see what deal will secure the support of the House. Of course, it has to be a deal that we can negotiate with the European Union, because a deal, by definition, has to be agreed by both sides. But nobody should be in any doubt: the current default legal position, should the Commons fail to agree on a deal, is to leave without one. Whilst I have every confidence that the UK would survive and thrive with a managed No Deal Brexit, the best way forward is to leave in an orderly way with a good deal.
I will be holding further meetings in the future, and please do get in touch with me if I can answer any specific questions you have about Brexit.