Delivering Brexit gives MPs a once-in-a-generation chance to reconnect with voters

Delivering Brexit gives MPs a once-in-a-generation chance to reconnect with voters

On 29th March this year, the UK will leave the European Union. Or, at least, that’s what we’ve been promised. Sadly, the next three months look set to be just as febrile and divisive as the last 24, but the first major test of Parliament’s intentions come in less than two weeks’ time as MPs grapple again with Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement.

The Withdrawal Agreement is deeply unsatisfactory. It does not restore full control of our laws. It does not restore our sovereignty; the UK will continue to be a rule taker, but with no say. It does not restore control of our territorial waters and fishing rights. And, perhaps most shockingly, it splits up the United Kingdom. In short, the Withdrawal Agreement does not deliver on the 2016 referendum result.

Delivering on that result is crucial – both to the long-term health of the Conservative Party and, much more importantly, the long-term health of the country. We have discovered in the last two years that democracy is a fragile thing. Too many MPs have seemed discombobulated and, in some cases, enraged by the public’s instructions. They have responded not with goodwill and honour but hysteria, obfuscation and, in many cases, insults.

Brexiteers have been told we did not know what we were voting for. We did: the terms of the referendum were crystal clear. We’ve been told new facts have emerged but they emphatically have not – unless you count the complete and total disproving of Remain’s Project Fear. Most egregious of all, we have been told we are fools, racists and xenophobes. This would be enervating enough from second referendum campaign groups, outside Parliament. That it should be coming from MPs – and in some cases Conservative MPs – is completely unacceptable, and in danger of severing the thin thread of trust left between voters and their representatives.

The Government have, I’m afraid, fuelled this narrative. In their desperation to deliver this Withdrawal Agreement, Brexit-supporting Members of Parliament have been labelled ‘ideological Brexiteers’. Replace the word ‘Brexiteers’ with ‘Democrats’, and you will see how absurd this operation has been. As Brexiteer Nigel Evans recently noted, we have a Remain Parliament in a Leave country. And that is the root cause of many of the past year’s problems.

The Conservative Party needs to rediscover its belief in free markets, free people and free thought. We need a Conservative Party that places people back in control of their own lives; that provides efficient, cost-effective public services then gets out the way so that individuals can enjoy more of their own money and be proud of their own achievements. Crucially, we need a Conservative Party that takes pride in our democratic institutions – and takes pride in democracy.

Whether by accident or design, this is not the position in which the current Conservative Government finds itself. It has shied away from the rich opportunities of Brexit and found itself caught between delivering what people voted for and electoral oblivion. This has led to top-down bullying of MPs, Councillors and activists. Fortunately, as my Stand Up For Brexit campaign has demonstrated, plenty of Conservatives are made of stern stuff and will not give into intimidation from Mrs. May and her apparatchiks.

As MPs prepare to reconvene in Westminster next week, I would urge them to consider their great responsibilities. They asked the people to tell them whether they wished to Leave or Remain in the EU and the people said: “we want to Leave – we want you, our MPs, to govern us instead.”

The people have re-empowered Parliament; for Parliament to say now that it cannot cope with the sovereign powers it has been returned would seem hugely tragic. This is a once-in-a-generation chance for them to reconnect with voters; to prove they are listening and to demonstrate to the general public that the faith they placed in them is not misplaced.