BREXIT

23rd January 2019

Dear Constituent,

Thank you for contacting me recently about the UK's withdrawal from the EU. I am grateful for the substantial continuing correspondence that I am receiving. Whilst it is not possible to respond to all emails and letters individually, please be assured that I am reading all incoming mail.

In the run up to the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement, and since, I have received many letters and emails from constituents offering a variety of views and advice, requesting me to vote in different and often conflicting directions.

I tell you this so that you understand that however passionately you have expressed your view, others have expressed their own views – which may contradict yours - just as passionately.

I am sending this letter to all constituents who have contacted me, regardless of their viewpoint.

I am personally very disappointed that Parliament voted to reject the Government's Withdrawal Agreement. It is absolutely necessary to have a Withdrawal Agreement whatever the circumstances, to secure a smooth and orderly exit from the EU. In my opinion the Prime Minister's deal honoured the result of the referendum. If it had passed, it would have provided much needed certainty to businesses, and a clear way ahead for progress across the piece.

I am wholly persuaded of the dangers of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit. We shouldn't ignore people who know their supply chains and understand the need for their products to be competitively priced. Maybe in time business could cope, but not in a few weeks. That is why I supported amendments to ensure the Government or others, cannot contrive a situation where we end up in a no deal situation by default.

But I cannot and will not support a second referendum. It would take many months for the referendum legislation and the necessary arrangements to be approved by Parliament and the Electoral Commission and for the vote to happen, which means a further protracted period of uncertainty for everyone. We would see those months filled with the unpleasantness that was such a feature of the last campaign, indeed it would be absolutely certainly worse.

I am a democrat. In the 2016 referendum my side lost. I was re-elected in 2017 with a large majority, on a manifesto pledge to honour the result of the referendum.  Therefore it remains my view and commitment that the UK must leave the EU but must do so under the best terms possible and with the best possible relationship with our closest and most valued trading partners.

It is clearly the view of MPs, that there should be some kind of deal. Looking at the result of the vote on the 15th January, approximately 80 voted because they want no deal, 150 voted for another referendum or to stop Brexit, which leaves roughly 400 in favour of a Brexit deal. I will look with an open mind at any arrangement that could command a majority of the House of Commons.

The Prime Minister made a Statement to Parliament on the 21st January on this issue, a copy of which I attach. I also attach my speech in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act Debate on Friday, 11th January, which further clearly sets out my views.

I would add that it really doesn't matter what I or any Member of Parliament individually wish for. It matters what can get through Parliament. I predict that what is finally achieved will not please me in every detail. Indeed, for most people it will be an imperfect outcome but, as the senior leave campaigner and MEP Dan Hannan wrote recently, if a 52/48% referendum result is a mandate for anything it is a mandate for compromise.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

 

Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Soames MP

 

Statement by the Prime Minister, 21st January 2019

Sir Nicholas’s Speech in the Debate on the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, 11th January 2019