I campaigned for a referendum on our relationship with Europe for over 20 years. I began my political career in the Referendum Party in 1996. I have always been a eurosceptic.
I will never forget (although it seems some have) that it was the Conservative Party led by David Cameron who gave the country an in/out referendum.
Once David Cameron began his renegotiation it became clear to me that the EU were never going to listen to him. With a heavy heart I told the then Prime Minister that I didn’t believe he would achieve anything and I would have to campaign to leave https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-35221167
17.4 million people voted to leave but we must also acknowledge that over 16 million people voted to remain. If I only speak with friends and colleagues who share my opinions I have my views confirmed. We are all a bit guilty of that and I try very hard to see everyone’s point of view.
What we have heard from Chequers is the headline statement. There are 120 pages of detail and I haven’t yet had the opportunity to see them and nor has anyone else. From what I have seen I have real concerns. This is not what I voted for but I have no idea what over 17 million other people voted for when they voted to leave the EU.
I do know many people voted purely on immigration and others on sovereignty. I voted leave because I didn’t want our laws made by unelected Commissioners in Brussels, rubber stamped by MEP’s who no one has ever heard of and upheld by the European Court of Justice. I do not recognise the flag or the anthem. But that is not the same reason as others and that’s why it’s difficult, more likely impossible, to please everyone.
We either make a deal about future trade with the EU or we leave and go onto WTO rules. That would not be easy and would create an economic shock. Not one we couldn’t recover from but a hit to growth and the economy nevertheless.
In short we are leaving and need to be careful not to get hung up on the detail. Out is out, what comes after is about trade.
More detail and the White Paper will emerge during this week and MPs will have a chance to vote on trade and customs the following week.
I don’t believe this is right versus wrong, left versus right or Theresa May versus Jeremy Corbyn, this is about getting the best deal for our country so that we can continue to grow our economy and fund our public services.
I think David Davis’ resignation has highlighted the challenge we face. I believe he realised that what he wanted and promised to deliver is not deliverable. What I want is what we could have had if we had never gone in, that is no longer an option.
If you don’t get married you don’t risk a break up and you can chart your own course, albeit perhaps less fulfilled and satisfying. But if you do and then you want a divorce it is rarely straightforward. It is probably painful and there has to be compromise on who keeps what.
This is where we are with our negotiations. We are talking about trade, customs, immigration and arbitration. In short, we are arguing about who gets to keep the dog or the CD’s. We’ll get there eventually but throwing our toys out of the pram and walking away has to be the last resort and I don’t think we’re there yet.
Whatever happens I can make this unequivocal commitment to my constituents, both leavers and remainers. We had a vote. The country decided. I will not renege on the referendum result no matter who is in government or who is the Prime Minister.