The Remainer uprising in SW1 represents a betrayal of Brexit and shows why we need strong leadership

The Remainer uprising in SW1 represents a betrayal of Brexit and shows why we need strong leadership

Leaving the EU should be a great liberating moment for our country – a chance to take back control of our borders, our laws and our money and place democracy and freedom at the forefront of our values. Since that momentous vote in June 2016, Parliament has extensively debated different visions for Brexit but the current uprising from Remain supporters in Parliament, the Government and around the Cabinet table is a dreadful attempt to destroy our democracy and betray the British people.

The Government made a number of clear promises about Brexit. Namely, we would be leaving the EU; we would be out of the Customs Union, which would give us the freedom to negotiate new trade deals; we would no longer be controlled by EU courts; and the integrity of our United Kingdom would be safeguarded. The Withdrawal Agreement which the EU and the Government are trying to force us to accept does not keep these promises and certainly does not deliver Brexit.

Commitments given to seek the reopening of the Withdrawal Agreement and pursue the flexibility and safeguards offered by the Malthouse Compromise have not been met. Along with other colleagues who have not supported the Withdrawal Agreement, I have sought to find a compromise and a way to deliver the freedoms that Brexit would give our country, while easing concerns about risk, volatility and transition. We sought to be reasonable and flexible while keeping the focus on our future as a free self-governing country. Promises were also made by the Government to seek changes in line with a vote in the House of Commons on 29th January but, once again, these were not pursued.

Those who have failed to take responsibility for poor negotiations and the UK not leaving the EU on 29th March have been deflecting attention away from their actions and blaming others. Instead of showing leadership, standing up for the national interest and delivering Brexit, they have sought to kick the can further down the road. Last week, after a seven-hour Cabinet meeting, we had the extraordinary and, frankly, humiliating situation in which the Government begged Jeremy Corbyn to take the reins and decide the fate of Brexit.

Only a few months ago at the Conservative Party Conference, the Prime Minister said: “The Jeremy Corbyn Party rejects the common values that once bridged our political divide.” Yes, that’s right, Mrs May has trusted a man who sides with terrorists and socialist dictators, would surrender our nuclear deterrent, has let anti-Semitism run rife in his Party and who would bankrupt Britain, with the keys to Brexit.

Government should be about responsibility but to abrogate that by purposefully choosing to cast aside the clear wishes of 17.4 million people and line up with the Labour leader is a shocking error of judgement. I do not know what the Cabinet was thinking when they reached that conclusion, but how can they now expect the public to trust them when they cannot trust themselves to govern?  This does not serve the national interest and it is also a huge political error to give Jeremy Corbyn a voice and credibility when he has consistently flip-flopped on the EU and on Brexit. We also do not know what the price will be for his support, which adds to the risk of the strategy the Cabinet has chosen. One thing is certain, this approach will mean no freedom from the EU, no freedom to make our own trade deals or our own laws and no freedom to be a self-governing country.

The Prime Minister in her statement was clear that the Withdrawal Agreement will not be changed. But it is this Agreement which is the problem because it puts the integrity of our country and the future of Northern Ireland at risk and traps the UK into accepting EU laws. Instead of being a free, self-governing democracy, the Withdrawal Agreement leaves us firmly under the thumb of Brussels.

So, having spent years pledging that ‘no deal’ was better than a bad deal, we now see the Government tearing up its own policy. The Cabinet should have shown resolve when the Withdrawal Agreement was defeated and taken us out of the EU on 29th March. Having fallen at that hurdle, they should have committed to leaving on 12th April, giving families and businesses certainty and respecting democracy. Sadly, we see that the Cabinet has missed another opportunity to deliver Brexit and show that it has faith and trust in the people of this country.

The decision to further delay Brexit will not bring the country together and nor will it find a solution to the current crisis. It will cause more divisions, create more uncertainty and is another humiliation for our great country. In order to move on, what our country urgently needs now is strong leadership. Leadership that will stand up and defend our democracy, trust our people, protect our freedoms and take Britain out of the EU, immediately.