Hundreds of constituents have emailed to express their dismay at the Government’s newly agreed BREXIT negotiating position.
They begin by telling me what they thought they were voting for in the EU referendum, which is fine. Overwhelmingly however, they go further and tell me exactly what the British People were voting for.
How can they possibly know?
I campaigned vigorously during those months in 2016 and I came across any number of quite differently nuanced opinions held amongst both Leave and Remain voters, in addition to the habitual caprice of so many voters who vote against something they don’t like rather than having a focussed view about what to replace it with.
I am always cautious when constituents tell me that everyone else thinks like them.
My experience was that although there was a firmly committed minority of voters on either side, most people made a finely balanced decision to vote Leave, but could relatively easily gone the other way, as indeed many Remain voters were not too troubled by the result because they too had made a finely balanced decision and might as easily have changed their mind.
As a representative I must exercise my judgement on behalf of my constituents, but in doing so I need to acknowledge that whilst I know how they collectively voted, I cannot possibly know why, or -in detail- what for.
That said, I campaigned to Leave: to regain control of our money, our laws and our borders. My principal problem with the Government’s position is that in a crucial respect it fails that test.
The Government has chosen to seek to preserve out unrestricted access to EU markets in manufactured goods and solve the Irish border problem, by offering to maintain a ‘common rule book’. The only thing that is ‘common’ about this rule book is that it is the EU rule book that must be adhered to in every EU state. Currently, we can deploy a measure of influence over the contents of the rule book.
The reality is that under the Government’s proposals we will have none, but will simply have to do as we are told.
We are the eighth largest manufacturing nation in the world. When it comes to high tech manufacturing we are in the top three. It is just bizarre, given the importance to us of manufacturing, that we would allow all our laws, regulations and specifications to be determined in another country, with that country’s own interests in mind, and with no regard to our own.
It would also scupper our ability to make new independent trading agreements.
It is just madness, I cannot see how I could possibly vote for it.
That voting decision, in isolation, is the easy bit. The difficulty comes when we consider the bigger picture. A vote against the Government, if it is effective, may have grave consequences. I already consider BREXIT to be in jeopardy. The Government losing a key vote might end up putting the whole enterprise very much more at risk.
Yes, I want to vote to change the Government’s newly defined BREXIT policy, but when it comes to the crunch I would choose the Government’s BREXIT recipe if the alternative is no BREXIT at all -which I now judge to be a real prospect.