Brexit reflections from Penny Mordaunt

Brexit reflections from Penny Mordaunt

Here is the latest in our series reflecting on the Brexit process with regular BrexitCentral authors and others who have played an important role in our journey out of the European Union. Here are the answers to our questions from Conservative MP Penny Mordaunt, who was Minister for the Armed Forces at the time of the referendum but campaigned for a Leave vote.

BC: When did you first come to the view that the UK would be better off out of the EU? Did you ever think that the EU could be reformed from within to make membership tolerable for the UK? Tell us how your views developed over time on the issue.

After David Cameron’s considerable efforts to secure reform failed to amount to a hill of beans, no one could have been in any doubt.

BC: What was your most memorable moment during the referendum campaign?

Sadly, Jo Cox’s murder.

BC: Who was the most unlikely ally you campaigned with or shared a platform with during the referendum? Did you strike up any unexpected new friendships across traditional political divides?

Those I was happy to share a platform with I was already friends with. There were some I did not wish to share a platform with, and didn’t.

BC: Where were you on referendum night? How did it feel?

I was in Leave HQ. I had started the evening at the Portsmouth count and had seen that Labour areas were coming out for Leave. That, combined with the announcement of the Sunderland vote, convinced me we were going to win. I felt immense pride that so many people had voted, and voted to Leave. I also knew it was a sober moment. The day before I had emailed Matthew Elliott to caution against celebrations. There would be many people feeling upset and concerned. Number 10 was going to go into meltdown as it would not have crossed their minds they were going to lose. We needed to move quickly to reassure people, Remain voters especially.

BC: Did you think then that it would take as long as it has for Brexit to actually happen?

I think it did matter that the Prime Minister who followed Cameron was a Brexiteer. It would have been so much easier for someone with those credentials to both deliver in negotiations and also to reach out to the other side of the argument. The 2017 election then destroyed any chance of Brexit within the original timeframe.

BC: Were there any moments in these last few years since the referendum when you thought the prize could yet be snatched from us?

No. I have always believed in the judgement of the British people. Collectively, they are flaming sensible. Collectively, they respected the result of the referendum. They respected democracy. It soon became apparent that an election would be needed to secure the result. That is what ultimately happened.

BC: Do you think the British electoral landscape will return to type once Brexit has been delivered? Or will Brexit have caused a lasting change to the political map of Britain?

I think the lesson here is way more than the political hue of certain seats. What people want is more democracy, not less. Brexit is just the start. If Westminster and Whitehall don’t deliver and don’t reform, a similar fate will potentially await. The lesson of Brexit is that if change isn’t a process, it becomes an event. So we’d all better buck up.

BC: What changes do you want/hope to see made now that the UK has taken back control? Can you summarise your vision for Brexit Britain?

Yes… What this space!

BC: Do you have any special plans for 1st February, our first day outside the EU?

It is a Saturday, so I will be knocking on doors!

BC: Do you have a favourite photo of yourself from the Brexit process? If so, please share it and give us the context for it.

As above, from the town hall meeting I did for BuzzFeed News and Facebook Live.