If Tory MPs ignore the party membership and back the Brexit deal, they risk losing the activists on whom they rely

If Tory MPs ignore the party membership and back the Brexit deal, they risk losing the activists on whom they rely

As Canterbury does not have its own Conservative MP, I have been asked by local Conservative members, activists and supporters to set out their views, as expressed to me, in the hope that Conservative MPs will read this before voting on the draft Brexit deal.

As a marginal seat in the heart of Kent, the Canterbury constituency is on the political ‘frontline’ for both Brexit and the next general election. Conservatives here fear the deal proposed offers a bleak prospect for both party and country. They hope you will weigh an alternative.

The majority of our Conservative members, activists and supporters voted Leave in 2016. They were not motivated by bigotry. Our constituency welcomes 7 million tourists every year, we are proud to host 40,000 students from around the world and our local businesses trade globally. Conservatives have an optimistic and outward looking worldview. The vote for Brexit was born of a desire to enhance sovereignty, create opportunity and embrace the future.

Conservative supporters who called for Brexit voted in good faith. They deserve recognition that they knew what they voting for. In Kent, people know that disruption needs mitigation. We have seen steps proposed in Operation Brock applied many times before. We marked agreements like the Treaty of Canterbury (regarding the Channel Tunnel) that facilitated trade before the European Union and will continue to have force regardless of Brexit. And now, we see neighbours across the Channel, like Holland, introducing new laws for an amicable ‘no-deal’ outcome. Evidently, those neighbours believe that is a sensible option.

I am sure most constituency Chairs like me have received a huge number of messages from those who oppose the draft Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration. Our supporters fear it springs from the same well as last year’s general election campaign. Indeed, when voters are told that declining this deal means no deal or no Brexit, they tend to reply: “fine, either is better”.

Our activists and voters cannot be taken for granted. Many worry this deal betrays them. Given the dreaded spectre of Jeremy Corbyn’s narrow-minded hate and broad-brush prejudice, the biggest risk we all face is not leaving the EU without a deal. It is that if we let down our supporters on this issue, they will not help us fight another. On 15th January, please vote against this deal.