• Now is the time to unite

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    07 April 2017

    Last Wednesday I sat next to the Prime Minister at the despatch box in the Commons for an hour and half during her statement on Article 50 which she had just invoked so commencing our withdrawal from the EU. No less than 110 MPs pressed their questions. Views were mixed as they are in the country – some felt it would be impossible to secure a reasonable deal with the EU given the time allowed, others that the rights of EU nationals should be granted by the UK unilaterally without simultaneously securing the same rights for our nationals living on the continent, others that any final deal should be put to another referendum. The Scottish Nationalists argued (with every single one of their MPs contributing) that leaving the EU goes against the will of the Scottish people – Scotland voted 2 to 1 to remain – and that there should now be a second referendum on independence. How much would we have to pay the EU on leaving in order to meet the future obligations that we have already entered into some asked? How much might this take away from public spending and public services? Others welcomed the triggering of Article 50 as the start of a process that might lead to the UK emerging as a stronger more globally facing country, our economy fortified by new trade deals, renewed control over our borders, fishing grounds to ourselves, more UK law making and much else. There were many views and clear divisions but one notion on which virtually all present agreed was that the result of the referendum must be respected. We are leaving the EU. As someone who voted and campaigned to remain (mainly due to my concerns about the economic impact of Brexit and its capacity to destabilise the UK as a union of nations) this was not a day I had relished. However, sitting there listening to the PM and sensing her resolve to fight for us with every fibre of her being I knew one thing for sure - that it is by uniting and sticking together in the pursuit of the best possible deal that we can achieve the best possible outcome. The alternative of on-going dogfights around trying to unpick what has now been done or seeking political advantage during a potentially difficult time for our country would be a destructive disservice to the people. We trusted the people with the question and now we must unite in making the very best of their decision. The greatest of all challenges ahead is clearly going to be to secure a beneficial trade deal. Get it right and we can prosper – get it wrong and we will suffer across the board. Too much is now at stake to refight the arguments that should have been left behind on June 23rd - now is the time for us all, politicians and public alike, to pull together and row in behind our negotiating team with a united show of purpose.