The recent prorogation of Parliament paves the way for a hugely overdue Queen’s Speech, laying out the Government’s plans, on 14th October. The Speech must deliver a clear statement of how the powers and money we are getting back from the EU will be used to boost our economy and public services. The new government has promised to spend more on schools, the NHS and the police. It needs to show how this money will be spent so that we deliver the quality services the public expect.
In the 2016 referendum voters were presented with an unambiguous choice to remain in the EU or to leave. The consequences of either decision were communicated by campaign groups through a variety of print, audio-visual and digital media. The Government also sent a document to every household in the UK on the benefits of staying in the EU.
The leaflet, which was delivered to every household in the country, under the heading "a once in a generation decision" read:
"This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide."
As the then Prime Minister, David Cameron said in his Chatham House speech on 10th November 2015:
"This is a huge decision for our country, perhaps the biggest we will make in our lifetimes. And it will be the final decision. So to those who suggest that a decision in the referendum to leave would merely produce another stronger renegotiation and then a second referendum in which Britain would stay, I say think again. The renegotiation is happening right now. And the referendum that follows will be a once in a generation choice. An in or out referendum. When the British people speak, their voice will be respected - not ignored. If we vote to leave, then we will leave. There will not be another renegotiation and another referendum."
The latest creed, that there is “no mandate” for a so-called “no deal” Brexit, simply does not stand up to the repeatedly and democratically expressed wishes of the electorate. In 2017 the then Prime Minister made it clear that she would seek a free-trade deal, but that “no deal was better than a bad deal”. This was confirmed on page 36 of the Conservative Party General Election Manifesto. Both main political parties pledged at the General Election 2017 to respect the EU referendum result and these parties received more than 80 per cent of the vote. The Conservatives won more votes than any party for 25 years.
A Government was formed on the back of the promises made in the General Election to leave the Single Market, the Customs Union and the jurisdiction of the ECJ; leaving without a deal was a clear possibility. Most importantly, the House voted to enact Article 50 by 494 votes to 122 which was unambiguous in making no deal the default position. MPs knew that by voting for this, the UK was legally bound to leave with or without a deal and this is the policy of the Prime Minister.
Whatever your view of the decision, it must be accepted. The process of implementing the decision in the best possible way must continue, not least to ensure that the British people maintain their faith in the political system to carry out the will of the majority.
Remainers in Parliament have shown that there are no depths they will not plumb in their attempts to overrule the largest democratic verdict ever delivered in British history. We should be in no doubt that this is not about avoiding “no deal”. It is about keeping the UK in the EU and its failing customs union, to which UK goods exports in 2018 amounted to just 8.2% of our GDP last year.
Their latest attempt, the EU (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act seeks to ensure that the EU can extend the Article 50 deadline without limit and would force the Prime Minister to accept it.
To break the current deadlock in the House of Commons the Prime Minister has made clear that his reluctant wish is to hold a general election. Having agitated for an election for years, Labour have unprecedentedly turned the opportunity down twice. They have been utterly unable to form any coherent position on Brexit and it bodes disastrously should they ever be allowed to form a Government.
Faced with such a ludicrously dysfunctional Parliament, it is entirely understandable that the Prime Minister is seeking a fresh mandate as the surest means of breaking the impasse. When Boris Johnson spoke outside No 10, he was absolutely right that any further delay in our leaving would be completely unacceptable, fatally undermining trust in the integrity of our democratic institutions. Instead, he can go to the country to repeat his compelling message. The Withdrawal Agreement is dead but we continue to seek a zero-tariff, zero-quota Free Trade Agreement with the EU in the best interests of both sides. Even if the FTA is rejected, the 31st October deadline must be met. “No deal” is a complete misnomer. As Tony Abbott said recently, Australia does $100bn of trade with the EU every year on this very basis. Many practical side agreements have already been agreed. Planes will fly. Medicines will arrive. The Channel Tunnel will remain open.
The Prime Minister is devoting all his energy to ensure that we do get a deal with the EU and I support him in that endeavour but the preparations for leaving with no deal should continue.
Whether you agree with my position or not, I hope that this is a helpful explanation of my sincere belief that leaving the EU is the right thing to do for our country and that we can make a real success of it.