As you may have read, Parliament is back and, sadly, as undecisive and divisive as before.
As you will read in the weblink below, I remain committed to the UK leaving the EU with a deal. If we cannot get a deal then I believe we must still honour the referendum and leave. I’ve always been consistent on this front, as my voting record demonstrates. I decided it was best to hear from the PM in private due to conflicting stories as to his appetite for getting a deal. He assured me that he is committed to getting a deal and he detailed how certain countries were softening their stance. He also confirmed the view I held; that the threat of No-deal was making our EU counterparts make noises on compromise. No concrete suggestion could be formally put down to the EU because the EU would be waiting to see if Parliament took the leverage (i.e. the threat of No-deal) off the table.
I voted with the Government this week to ensure (a) we leave the EU on 31 October and (b) No-deal remains on the table. This vote was lost. There is a pattern here. Every time I have voted in Parliament on leaving the EU, I have been on the losing side. This is because in each of these votes (be it the Withdrawal Agreement, not delaying our departure beyond 31 March or, this week, beyond 31 October), my vote has been to leave the EU and leave on schedule. A majority in Parliament always votes to deliver no progress.
Due to the latest set-back, the Prime Minister determined that the only way we would leave the EU by the end of October would be with a new mandate following a General Election. To deliver this, the Fixed-Term Parliament Act, which the coalition put in place to satisfy the Lib Dems in 2010 that we would not cut-and-run with an election before 2015, requires two-thirds of MPs to vote in no confidence against the Government. We therefore had the absurd situation of Conservative MPs voting no-confidence in the Government with the opposition refusing to vote no-confidence in the Government.
I am afraid that a General Election looks inevitable but, as Parliament effectively controls when this can be called, I cannot see it happening before an extension to Brexit is set in stone.
It’s important that, when an election is called, we can demonstrate we are the party which is attempting to honour our democratic commitments and are on the side of business, jobs, security and fairness. The Prime Minister has said that any MP who frustrates the ability to deliver Brexit will not hold the party whip. This applies to those Conservative MPs who would not vote for a deal he brings back as well as those who, this week, potentially caused Brexit to be delayed. I received 300 emails this week on Brexit and my voting. Of these, 276 demanded that I took No-deal off the table so they will be disappointed. The bulk who identified a voting preference, professed to be Conservative voters who would not vote for the party again if we left the EU without a deal. As we did in 2015 and 2017, success at the polls will require us to demonstrate we have a broad policy approach which will attract both Leave and Remain voters.
Incidentally, there were other matters in Parliament which may not have been reported. I have had two Transport Select Committee meetings, one of which will lead to our report on parking where Bexhill-on-Sea is mentioned with a view to supporting the Conservative Group’s commitment to transfer parking enforcement from the police to traffic wardens in Rother. In the chamber, I’ve also spoken about HS2 and continued push for my legislation to see a cashpoint in every High Street which supports 5,000 residents. We have our fix for Battle but the position remains the same across the UK and Heathfield is looking in a worrying position following the recent loss of Lloyds and Santander. I also welcomed the spending investments in Local Government, Social Care and Education. I received a name-check from the new Chancellor on the campaigning for school funding – not always a compliment from Government but hopefully this sends a sign out that we fight for our local causes. A newsletter will come out today so you can view the speaking.
I hope that this email, and the link to my website, sets out my current views and thoughts in what remains a very fast-moving picture.
With best wishes,
Member of Parliament for Bexhill and Battle
29-31 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, TN40 1EE
Tel: 01424 734910