Brexit must mean Brexit again, Prime Minister

Brexit must mean Brexit again, Prime Minister

After the past week, the grassroots supporters of my campaign, Stand Up For Brexit, are more frustrated than theyve ever been. This time last Thursday it seemed that, at the very least, the voice of of Brexiteers would finally be heard. The Governments planned Withdrawal Agreement – and subsequent deal – would be written off as unacceptable and a new direction would be taken, whoever stood at the helm. Today, we saw Theresa May get to her feet during Prime Ministers Questions and deliver an ultimatum: its her Brexit or no Brexit at all.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Mays Brexit already is no Brexit at all. It is a capitulation, being driven through with blackmail and threat, which makes a mockery of the referendum result and will tie the UK into the EU permanently. As things stand, the Government intends to hand over £39 billion in exchange for practically nothing. The dealwill remove our fisheries from our control and precipitate the final destruction of our fishing industry. The dealwill keep us locked in the Customs Union, and split Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. Perhaps worst of all, the dealwill make us a rule-taker of the EU, with EU law supreme and EU judgments final. How have we ended up in this position?

Part of the problem is simple arithmetic. The overwhelming majority of MPs are Remain supporters, who were shocked by the 2016 result and seem determined to neutralise it. Through their eyes, maybe this makes sense. Its very hard to champion a policy which you do not believe in, particularly such a major change of policy as leaving the EU. Just as you would not expect a government of Brexiteers to lead the UK deeper into the European federalisation project, so it was wishful thinking to imagine a government dominated by Remainers would be best placed to disentangle us from it.

There have been honourable exceptions to this. The former Northern Ireland minister Shailesh Vara, a Remain voter, demonstrated exactly the kind of nimble mind and respect for the electorate we need from our elected representatives when he resigned over the Withdrawal Agreement. If only more ministers had behaved like that.

We now have 56 Conservative MPs who have pledged to our campaign. They have committed to upholding the principles of Brexit, outlined by Mrs May in her Lancaster House speech, and sadly abnegated by her Withdrawal Agreement. More MPs are pledging daily, outraged by the attitude of the European Union. Only today we have heard from Monsieur Barnier that the proposed deal is non-negotiable – an affront to the United Kingdom, which remains the worlds fifth largest economy and arguably its premier soft power. Sadly, Mrs. May has shown little willingness to date to challenge the EU. She has lived up to her bloody difficult womansoubriquet. The problem is, her stubbornness and refusal to compromise has been mostly directed at Brexiteers and her own party.

But Brexiteers are fighting back. Every MP who pledges to support my campaign is not just making his or her own views clear, but also reassuring grassroots Conservatives – and Leave voters up and down the country – that there are politicians who are serious about honouring the referendum result – and the Toriesmanifesto promises. In these turbulent times, it is a gesture which resonates well beyond Westminster and party politics.

The irony is that the parliamentary arithmetic which has led to the Governments proposed plan will also ensure they cant pass it. Perhaps this will lead to more letters being written to Sir Graham Brady. Perhaps not. Either way, it will be a clear signal that the policy needs to change.

If it doesnt, the Conservative Party is in trouble. Just as the heavily engaged grassroots campaigners who support my campaign are angry and frustrated by what has happened to Brexit, so the Leave voters who backed the party at the General Election will dissipate into anger and apathy. To quote Dr. Julian Lewis, one of our most recent pledges:

If this goes through, and if Brexit is sold out in this way, there is no doubt in my mind that the Conservative Party will be annihilated at the next election.

The 2016 referendum result was a historic opportunity for change. It was a historic chance for the Conservative Party to re-establish itself as a patriotic party of ordinary people. If were not careful, it will be the historic flashpoint which ushered in Corbynism and removed the Conservatives from office for a generation.