Brexit Update

21st October 2019

We are living through tumultuous times and I wanted to deal directly and properly with the concerns constituents have raised. 

As you may know, I campaigned to Remain in the EU Referendum in 2016, but I also promised to respect and honour the result.  Despite the obvious weaknesses and failings of that campaign - on both sides - I have been clear and consistent that I will honour that pledge. When MPs ask the people in a Referendum I deeply believe that we must respect that result. 

Here in Mid Norfolk people voted 62:38 for Leave.  Although as I pledge at each election I believe sincerely that my duty as MP is to try as best I can to represent the interest of ALL the people of Mid Norfolk - including the children and young people who can’t vote - and the interests of the whole community, not just the people who vote for me - the Referendum was a simple Leave or Remain question, and all of us who voted to Remain have to accept that we lost. 

So the issue then becomes HOW we leave.  I believe it is essential for the interests of the Mid Norfolk (and national) economy, and therefore our public services and all the things that Government provides which are funded from a growing economy, that we secure a Withdrawal Agreement which provides what was promised in the Referendum (and what I believe the vast majority of Mid Norfolk residents want: to be in the “Common Market but NOT the political union”). 

This isn’t straightforward because the “Common Market” is based on a Common Customs Union, and Common Trading Standards, which are the very things many Leavers specifically want to Leave.  That is why I strongly supported Theresa May in negotiating to get a sensible Withdrawal Agreement for an orderly withdrawal and a workable long-term relationship providing continuity for today’s businesses and sectors (like automotive, aviation, medical research, food & farming and higher education) deeply dependent on collaboration with European projects and partners, but freedom to begin to orientate more of our trade to the fastest-growing global markets worldwide, beyond the EU. 

When - in March - it became clear that a coalition of MPs in Parliament who HAD voted to trigger Article 50 were determined to vote AGAINST the Withdrawal Agreement (for their own disingenuous reasons - Opposition MPs just for the sake of opposing, second-referendum MPs to try and force a second referendum, and hard line no-deal Brexiteers to try and force no deal on March 29th) I supported the Prime Minister in seeking an extension.  

It was also clear to me that after a series of negotiating errors, Theresa May had run out of runway to negotiate and that we needed a new leader to try and complete the negotiations. 

After the EU elections in May it was clear to me that unless we resolve the ongoing Brexit Civil War which has gridlocked our country, Government and Parliament, we will not be able to move on.  And worse - we are likely to see extremist politicians exploit the vacuum for their own claims to power.  History shows us how dangerous this is.  I believe that Jeremy Corbyn’s neo-Marxist front bench would be a disaster for this country. 

With public anger at this impasse deepening dangerously, I believe the Conservative Party has to step up and bring new energy, ambition and resolution to getting a sensible Withdrawal Agreement AND launching a bold domestic policy programme of reforms to tackle the deep grievances with UK politics and government which have incubated this crisis. 

That is what Boris Johnson offered, is delivering and why I support him. I simply do not accept in any way the caricature of him being put about by the more extreme anti-Brexit campaigners as some sort of right wing  extremist.  

Anyone who follows Conservative politics knows that Boris Johnson's track record as Mayor of London shows a long commitment to liberal Conservatism, public services, public transport, environmental activism,  support for an activist Industrial Strategy, UK aid and International development and major investment in infrastructure and a deep commitment to making Government work for the silent majority of citizens who work and pay their taxes and want Government to work for them.

I am supporting him because he is committed to doing what I think we need to do: 

  • get on and show the British people that we WILL honour the EU Referendum result 
  • negotiate hard to get a good deal 
  • launch a bold programme of domestic reforms to tackle the domestic grievances (infrastructure, connectivity, schools, NHS, social care and better housing and planning and public transport) which are the priority of most UK citizens   

It is impossible to please all the people all the time - and I accept and welcome that all constituents will make their own judgements - but I wanted you to hear from me why I have taken the position I have.  

It is a huge privilege to be the MP for our part of the world. 

I deeply believe that my core responsibility is to try and tackle public disillusionment with politics by: 

  1. Showing that I am listening to - and guided by - the views of this constituency.  Mid Norfolk voted 62:38 to Leave. 
  1. Continuing my local work as a hardworking constituency MP to tackle the challenges of inaccessibility, disconnection, marginalisation, and the silent suffering of people in villages and towns which are struggling to remain vibrant. 

I believe that by honouring the EU Referendum result and implementing a bold package of domestic reforms we can reunite this country, and re-inspire a New Generation that we are not withdrawing from our global and European responsibilities, but redoubling our commitment to build a more secure, resilient, prosperous and enterprising country in which everyone can realise their potential.

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