Tony Benn in his diaries, More Time for Politics, gave a timely warning relevant to Brexit:
“I have been disappointed and worried by a dangerous cynicism about parliamentary government; a cynicism strengthened by the suspicion that Britain [is] being managed and not represented and that voters could never be sure that they are being told the truth.”
It is a feeling I share and believe the majority of voters in my constituency, two-thirds of who voted to leave the European Union will relate too.
I supported a referendum, as there was a generation of people who never had a say on our relationship with Europe. There were many who voted in the 1975 referendum who have concerns that the Common Market they supported had developed into a political institution, the European Union, that bore little resemblance to what they voted to join.
I don’t want the public to be cynical about politics. To me, the process is simple. The referendum determined the decision to leave the European Union. While it may have been close nationally; my constituency expressed a clear view to leave. I was then re-elected on a manifesto to deliver Brexit. This is a triple mandate for leave in East Durham.
It not the responsibility of politicians to ‘manage’ voters away from Brexit, it is to represent and respect the democratic decision made on Thursday 23th June 2016.
Brexit has been made more difficult by the Prime Minister.
Theresa May has failed to place the national interest above party politics.
The Prime Minister disregarded the national interest by calling a General Election in 2017. She listened to pollsters telling her she could win a landslide parliamentary majority, rather than using the majority she inherited from David Cameron to deliver Brexit.
After her election miscalculation, the Prime Minister ploughed on and didn’t reach out to build a cross-party team to negotiate Brexit.
A united, cross-party Brexit team would have strengthened the UK’s hand at the negotiating table. A deal negotiated by a cross-party team would have returned to the Commons with an agreement endorsed by both major parties.
The Prime Minister chose a different strategy. A strategy that has failed and cause of the current crisis. The Prime Minister strategy, to hold the UK and the EU to ransom has led to the current impasse.
There has been a complete lack of leadership from the government. Competing Tory Groups, the European Research Group, the DUP, backbenchers that want a referendum on the deal, backbenchers that want a second referendum on Brexit, and the breakaway Independent Group that want to stop Brexit, are pulling the Prime Minister in two different directions.
It has been clear for some time that the Prime Minister is not competent to negotiate Brexit or lead the UK. However, despite the opportunity, the DUP, the Conservative Party and the breakaway Independent Group Tories, voted to retain confidence in the Prime Minister, and they all must accept their responsibility in facilitating the current Brexit crisis.
We are a divided parliament, a divided country, and divided personally.
I do not support the Prime Minister Brexit deal that delivers the worst of all world.
I do not support a ‘No Deal Brexit’ that would jeopardise the export businesses in my constituency.
I do not support extending Article 50, other than for a few weeks if this is absolutely necessary for legislative purposes as I fear some are trying to use an extension to stop Brexit.
A delay in leaving the European Union would be unacceptable in all circumstances, except to implement an agreed deal, or a pause for a purpose, such as a General Election to break the Brexit impasse. Anything else would only delay the process, without achieving any progress.
The Prime Minister’s Brexit chaos and inept leadership have fuelled those calling for a so-called ‘People’s Vote’.
We had a People’s Vote on the 23rd of June 2016. I caution those seeking another vote believing they can overturn Brexit. This will create the dangerous cynicism that undermines our parliamentary democracy, erode trust in our politics, and despite what they may think, deliver another majority confirming Brexit.
I will be maintaining my position to ensure that the rights of working people, pensioners and vulnerable people in Easington are at the forefront of any decisions about the form Brexit will take.