MP for North Swindon

Justin Tomlinson MP

Swindon Advertiser Column: Brexit, It All Comes Back To Brexit

 
 
Well… I am typing this article on the train back from Parliament on Thursday. How do I sum up events, something seasoned journalists are struggling to do with events moving quicker than I am typing!

Brexit, it all comes back to Brexit! For three years the only thing in Parliament we can agree on is that we disagree. This has caused frustration and anger with residents, who rightly expect us to get on and sort it, one way or another. Over the past three years, every possible outcome has been debated, voted and ultimately rejected. From no deal Brexit, endless combinations of deals, second referendums, single market, customs union, etc – all defeated, defaulting to yet further extensions, kicking the can down the road. The defeats have perhaps not been surprising with no majority for any party in Parliament, and very different positions on Brexit. We are committed to delivering Brexit, ideally with a deal. Labour would like a deal, though not ours, but then they would put it (and only their deal) to a second referendum and then campaign against it. The Liberals, Greens and SNP would just cancel Brexit. As you can see it is tricky to find a middle ground amongst that and believe me I know as I have voted repeatedly for a deal to break the deadlock.

The new PM Boris Johnson made it clear that endless extensions had to stop. One way or another we have to deliver Brexit, the democratic will of the British public, by October 31. For a new deal to secure a majority, something the former PM’s deal (and all others suggested) had failed to do, there had to be a change, something new for MPs to compromise (a little!) enough to support. Therefore, we felt the clear commitment to leave on October 31st would do two things. Firstly, one way or another we would deliver the democratic will, no ifs or buts. Secondly, it would focus the minds of the EU at the EU Summit on October 15, so we could have something new to vote on and help break the deadlock; and those MPs opposed to Brexit might decide to support a deal rather than allow no deal. So, no deal was a key part of our PM’s negotiations, something as a former business owner I understand, but is seemingly lost on too many career politicians.
 
However, this week we were defeated. The opposition parties, with a handful of our colleagues, voted to remove no deal from the negotiation, undermining our chances of getting new terms, vital to allow MPs to back a deal. This will simply lead to yet more delay, they simply want to run down the clock and ultimately cancel Brexit, despite the referendum result. It is clear the deadlock cannot be broken in Parliament, with no party commanding a majority. We therefore have (with a heavy heart) sought to trigger a general election, to let the public decide who should lead the negotiations and what the outcome should be. As it stands the opposition parties, who until Monday evening were demanding an election, have voted to block one (perhaps nervous at the recent polling.) However, we expect their position to change after the weekend. Then the power will be in the hands of the public, something MPs can’t escape.
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