MPs be warned: a bad deal or delaying Brexit would destroy voters’ faith in mainstream politics

MPs be warned: a bad deal or delaying Brexit would destroy voters’ faith in mainstream politics

I have noted before that here in Kent, we in the Canterbury Conservatives find ourselves on the electoral and geographic ‘front line’ of Brexit. Hundreds of local voters, activists and party members have asked me to describe our situation, in particular for the benefit of Conservative MPs in advance of today’s votes.

The Conservative Party’s goals are exactly in line with the national interest. Defending and winning our target seats is key to keeping Jeremy Corbyn out of Downing Street. Grassroots Conservatives given the opportunity to reinvigorate local campaigns are stepping up – we have one of the largest doorstep operations in the country and party members (myself included) have donated as much time and money as they can to the national effort, too.

Getting Brexit wrong would undo our hard work. Endorsing a bad deal or delaying Brexit would be a hammer blow to activists’ morale and voters’ faith in mainstream politics. People believe that if a Brexit date is removed from the European Union (Withdrawal) Act of 2018, then this House of Commons would never put it back. The dismay would be felt in the forthcoming local elections and at the next general election. Whatever happens, the public thinks the Conservative Party is ‘the Brexit party’ – so, rather than trying to wish it away, we have to deliver it.

Conservative voters follow the Brexit debate. Most believe the risk of short-term economic disruption is dwarfed by the threat of long-term political trauma. People know that no-deal temporary status quo arrangements are already agreed in areas like financial services, the Common Transit Convention, energy interconnections, haulage, data transfers, cross-border rail, aviation, visa-free travel and others besides. They also believe that during an ‘Implementation Period’ the Commission would force MPs to present the British public with growing financial obligations to the EU, a restricted electricity Capacity Market, reduced tax relief on London’s service economy, limited third country trade and so on – all while the Commons has no say in the EU institutions.

It is daunting to imagine that from next month MPs might have to tell people they must obey instructions from the very EU institutions they have voted to leave – and even more daunting to then ask voters to re-elect those MPs. People do want a good and new relationship with the EU after Brexit. A bad deal or a delay would make that harder. So to Conservative MPs I say: please keep faith with the voting public, your activists and members.