19 JAN 2019

Brexit and Confidence

I voted against the PM's Brexit deal on Tuesday not only because of concerns about the Withdrawal Agreement itself but because the accompanying political declaration on the Future Framework delivered nothing but uncertainty and the prospect of years of wrangling to come. The scale of the government defeat has made it absolutely clear that this deal cannot pass the House of Commons. It is not just a matter of a few tweaks, the Deal fundamentally pleased neither remainers nor the majority of those who had campaigned for leave.

Far from being the easiest deal in history, the reality was always going to be that compromises and trade offs would be necessary during negotiations. Brexit reality is very far from the sunlit uplands promised during the campaign.

Parliament has reached a complete impasse and I do not believe there will be a majority for any of the alternative proposals and least of all for leaving with no deal at all. In the meantime the days are counting down to March 29th and we risk falling into a chaotic No Deal Brexit unless an alternative is in place. No responsible government could knowingly and deliberately allow that to happen given the serious real world harm to individuals, communities and our economy. The term 'clean Brexit' is a misnomer, it would leave a great deal of avoidable misery for too many of our fellow citizens. No doubt the comfortably off leaders of the Leave campaign would be fine but the economic fallout would hit the poorest the hardest. It has taken a decade to recover from the effects of the 2008 crash and that involved many tough choices about government spending. I want to see an end to austerity, not see us deliberately crashing out with no deal and putting that recovery in jeopardy.

I believe that the only alternative way out of this mess will be to seek an extension of Article 50 and a People's Vote.

My feeling is that a People's Vote should at least include the only negotiated deal as well as an option to remain. I know many people would also like to see No Deal included. The Electoral Commission would advise and Parliament would debate and decide on the question if a decision was made to go ahead with a Referendum Bill. The following report from the Constitution Unit at University College London on the mechanics of a referendum sets out the mechanics of organising a referendum and how this could be achieved in far less than a year https://www.ucl.ac.uk/constitution-unit/sites/constitution-unit/files/the_mechanics_of_a_further_referendum_on_brexit_-_constitution_unit_report_183_revised.pdf

Due to a recent amendment which I supported, the PM must now announce her next steps on Monday, rather than having 21 days as she would otherwise have been able to do. Reports are that the government is now in listening mode but I struggle to see any changes to the Deal that would unite enough backbenchers and secondly be approved by the EU to see it succeed. Others a pushing for a Norway Style deal which would allow us to continue membership of the Single Market, alongside a customs arrangement. This would be the softest type of Brexit and whilst far less economically damaging than No Deal, would again run into the problem of pleasing neither remainers nor leavers. It is likely that many leave campaigners would find it even less acceptable than the PM's Deal given that so called 'Norway plus' would prevent an independent trade policy and see the continuation of free movement of people.

I think it is unlikely that the Commons will agree a compromise that the majority of MPs can support and I would only agree to back Norway Plus if the public were also given the opportunity to weigh up its risks and benefits and have the final say.

I am working with colleagues from Parties across both sides of the Commons to bring an amendment in support of a People's Vote.

I realise that Brexit remains a highly contentious issue and I hear passionate views from both sides of the argument.

I supported the government in the confidence vote on Wednesday and I do not think this lies in contradiction with my vote against the Brexit deal the day before. A general election will not resolve the single most contentious issue before us because these are never fought on a single issue.

I believe that a People's vote would allow us to move forward together with confidence that the nation had given its consent based on the facts and Brexit reality rather than unrealistic promises. It is now over two years since the original referendum, longer than the period between our two most recent general elections and it is nonsense fo some to suggest it is somehow anti democratic to allow people to change their minds and express a democratic opinion. I fully accept that the result could be the same but it would at least be a settled decision based on all the facts and we could finally move forward together rather than tearing ourselves apart.

38 comments

In a way Parliament currently reflects the confusion and disagreements within the electorate so in one sense it is being democratic. Given there are so many different views how many options would there be on a ballot paper in a People's vote? And would it be a simple majority again? We seem to be heading to a situation where there is no majority for any option and whatever happens now the public are a) losing faith in our politicians b) destined to be very unhappy and divided. All very sad.
- Howard

I agree with what you've said Sarah as I realise what a mess the country is in although I will find that I am so angry at conservatives for doing this to the country in the first place. This is without a doubt the result of money interfering with normal democracy and to think our parliament trundled along and accepted all this and now does nothing to investigate and repair its broken system scares the living daylights out of me. We need to agree on something that will not hurt the people or does the least damage possible. I'd prefer a peoples vote but the amount of money being thrown at leave from outside UK is already paying for a massive campaign against the EU and the lies are unbelievable, todays Telegraph saying remain have had ads campaign all the time in facebook paid by Soros is complete rubbish but no doubt leavers will believe it. If I could quite frankly I would leave UK now and go live in Europe a bigoted right wing Britain is not somewhere I ever imagined finding myself. Overall feeling though is anger at our government, in representing leave and declaring "the will of the people" rubbish it is feeding the decline. WE are the people too and right now we are the majority who wish to remain and not be hurt by this our children's futures are at stake here to. MP's telling untruths and not being called out for them, media continually spinning the truth and 90% percent of the press controlled by those who would do this is a nightmare which if allowed to go on will destroy our economy, set people against people in the country and will not end well. It is alright for all those who have their millions and sit their on the back benches spouting utter nonsense, but all of us ordinary people are feeling the results of this and I can assure you it is not pleasant. The EU has offered us peace, stability, safety, economic benefits and opportunities that previously was only available to the wealthy with freedom of movement. Together we are a force that matter in world politics and business. To turn on them in this way is horrid and frankly unacceptable. I think you are in the wrong party now, as the conservatives cannot survive this either way, people will never trust you again and if money can buy you all so easily you are not worth having as representatives in parliament anyway. This is not personal against you but many others in your party do have a lot to answer for. Mr Corbyn is another matter his beliefs have driven him to where he sits now uncomfortably on the fence, however how he ever came to be leader is for another time. I hope you and the sensible ones in all parties separate so we can get behind you all and sort the mess as well as we can. I shall however always be remain fully in EU because I believe in being together as one voice peacefully.
- Carolanne

Sir John Major in his article on 13th January last cites the need to revoke Article 50. I am in total agreement with that. It has to be a precursor. His article I feel is very well reasoned and shows a lot of wisdom. It should be widely read and considered, especially by our MP who needs the desperate help we all need right now.
- David Burrell

As well as being dishonest, Wollaston is just not bright enough to be an MP. Witness this line at the start of her incoherent post: "...the reality was always going to be that compromises and trade offs would be necessary during negotiations. Brexit reality is very far from the sunlit uplands promised during the campaign". The first sentence is literally contradicted by the second sentence. If there were always going to be "trade offs", then when people made their choice, they were not voting for "the sunny uplands promised". They made a choice in the knowledge "that compromises and trade offs would be necessary". Unless she is suggesting that the people did not know this. In which case, if she believes that the little people were too stupid to make such a decision, why did she support the government in offering a referendum and promise to respect the outcome? Remainers lost because their case was and is incoherent. Now they claim May's deal is bad, but in the same breath say "there is no such thing as a good Brexit". Thus we have to stay in the EU. Then why did they support having a referendum? Because they (the political establishment) thought they could trick and intimidate the little people into voting the way of the establishment...and when the little people didn't follow the government funded propaganda, they simply didn't know what to do. Now the elite claim..."well, we tried, but it's not possible...sorry!". when in really they didn't try to get a good deal, and worked from the day after the referendum to make the process as difficult as possible. Almost the definition of political sabotage. Then they claim "abuse", because some people (having watched our political elite try to rob them of their democratic choice) yell nasty stuff at some of the worst culprits. Well if the political elite think that such a transparently stupid attempt to dupe the people will wash, and continue to thwart the choice made by the British people in June 2016, history tells us that it ends badly for them. It's two years since the last "People's Vote" in Totnes, and circumstances have obviously changed. Sarah should resign her seat, follow her heart to the Lib Dems, and allow the people of Totnes to give "informed consent" to her continuing as our MP.
- George, Paignton

Sorry, in my comment I meant PM, not MP - however, here is a quote from Sir John’s article: I would therefore suggest that, while there remains no consensus in parliament about how best to proceed, the government should, without delay: ● Ask parliament to rescind the European Union (Withdrawal) Act; ● Withdraw the article 50 notification; ● Establish a national consultation process; ● Agree “headline” points on our future relationship with the EU and put that outcome to a binding referendum, with the option of maintaining the status quo. The binding nature of this should be enforced by the confirmation from each party leader that the outcome of this further referendum would be definitive. Only this will provide voters with the facts and reassurance they need to reach a final decision on where best our country’s future — and their own personal future — lies.
- David Burrell

It is perfectly reasonable for the people to have the final say via a 2nd referendum, and it must not be denied, if we are to start healing division. And George from Paignton, attacking personalities is the gutter end of argument. It's not helpful. There are rumours of another GE...how come we can have a another GE, but a second referendum is denied? Blows the "will of the people nonsense" that's for sure. I've attach a quote from the Washington Post recording how low we have fallen. "Brexit has been a catastrophic political failure. This messy, unpopular deal, the most unpopular government policy that anybody can remember, was produced by a political class that turned out to be ignorant — about Europe, Europeans, trade arrangements, institutions — and arrogant, disdaining knowledge and expertise. It was the work of leaders who favoured identity politics over economics, who preferred an undefined notion of “sovereignty” to the real institutions that gave Britain influence and power, who believed in fantasies and scorned reality." Anne Applebaum. Washington Post
- richard

I think Sarah Wollaston has made her position clear and what a shabby one it is. Smoke and mirrors, muddying the waters and weasel words are her forte. The fact that Parliament cannot agree to proceed with Brexit in no way justifies another referendum until the first is implemented. It suggests that Parliament has a majority of Remainers trying various ways to subvert a result they disagree with. The people of this country understand the meaning of 'fair play' and won't be fooled by such disgraceful behaviour. Parliament voted overwhelmingly to leave on 29th March with either a deal or on WTO terms, now a stalement has been engineered in an attempt to reverse the people's decision. Unless the result is respected I believe the Conservatives will lose the next election with Remainer MPs voted out and jolly good to. Time to send in our letters to Totnes Conservative Assoc. asking for a trustworthy candidate !
- John

John, I merely suggested that her constant flip-flopping on this issue (remember that for most of the campaign she WAS a Brexiteer) and regular. It is not the gutter to suggest that Wollaston is dishonest, lacks judgement and lacks intelligence...it's evident for all to see. "How come we can have a another GE, but a second referendum is denied". That would be because we have not left the EU yet you see? The logic of your argument would be that we should have a another General Election before a government could actually take office. As for Anne Applebaum...well not really the honest impartial international arbiter you portray her as is she? She is the wife of Radoslaw Sikorski. He is a former candidate for the post of EU High Representative and well known Brussels sycophant...he obviously aspires to higher political office with the Brussels kleptocracy, and his wife is doing an excellent job of peddling their line. Usually with the EU, you really just have to join the dots to see what the connection is to the gravy train. No wonder no trusts the mainstream media and our political establishment, when so many of them have their snouts in the trough.
- George, Paignton

George you are obviously losing the arguments when you have to resort to personal insults against Dr Wollaston. We know your opinions and can see through them. What we need to do now is to find a way out of this mess that Cameron dropped us into. Just being rude won't help at all.
- Bob

Bob, the mess is a result of the majority of Parliament being Remainers who are trying to subvert the democratic process by various means ! I voted Leave: Having negotiated with the EU at Commission level and have a relative in a senior position; I am left with the inescapable view that the EU is a corrupt, self serving organization. The EU will not be happy until parity is achieved between the pieces of land formerly known as nations. If that requires reducing the UK economy to the level of states recovering from years behind the Iron Curtain, then that is what they will attempt !
- John

Bob, the argument finished for most people on 23 June 2016. You haven't addressed any point I have ever made in correspondence with you, so you are not so much losing an argument as avoiding it on the grounds you are out of your depth. I won't respond to you again because you never make any sensible or relevant point.
- George, Paignton

If the argument finished in 2016 why are we still having it now. The PM's deal was voted down. The commons is split. The country is split. The tory party is split. I will say it again, we need to find a way out of this mess. No deal will be a disaster, if we try to fight with the big boys in the WTO playground we will get thrashed. Our services sector will suffer ( Look at Rees Mogg - he has opened a Dublin office to keep his access to the EU. There is a vote of confidence in the future) Where do we go from here? I will say it again, if the brexiteers are so confident of their position, why not confirm it with another vote?
- Bob

I really do not know how to reply or whether I should try! Your dramatisations - crash out, chaotic, apparent reliance on hearsay, end to austerity, etc. - demonstrate a tremendous lack of thought. And your patronising remarks about comfortably off leaders of the Leave campaign are beyond the pale when one reads that the current Leave lobbying, being organised by the likes of Mandelson and Roland Rudd, is funded by no less than George Soros. If you are so convinced about the damage a clean Brexit will do, which is what you so stridently claim, where is your supporting analysis? I spent an hour or so recently listening to Hilary Benn’s EUExit Select Committee putting questions to Chris Heaton-Morris, Minister responsible for no-deal preparations. His evidence as to our preparedness for the short term issues that might arise with a whole range of EU goods, perishable foodstuffs, pharma supplies, etc., was most reassuring. It is worth noting the relevance of Mr Heaton-Morris’s background. Before politics including a spell as an MEP, he ran a family business at Covent Market importing perishable foods from around the world including from the EU. He foresees few no-deal problems beyond a short period of adjustment. Elsewhere it is easy enough to access official reports indicating arrangements are in place for other no-deal issues that must be addressed – Euratom, airline over-flights, etc. As to your suggestion that a so-called people’s vote should involve just two questions: remain or the May deal that Parliament overwhelmingly voted down? Well who would accept that as a fair proposition, who would not see through that sort of gerrymandering? The Conservative manifesto that you presumably supported in 2017 ruled out joining the single market and customs union, which rules out a Norway type solution, which essentially rules out anything softer than Mrs May’s deal, which in turn has been rejected by Parliament. So what was wrong with the proposals offered up by David Davis, that Michel Barnier was reported to have been working toward - based on a free trade agreement such as the one signed with Canada. You should consider very, very carefully the consequences of a re-run: the horrendous ructions in the event of a slim Remain 51:49 win - a real possibility - polling continues to show opinion is as divided as it has always been. Everyone favours a good trade deal but few political union. Take a step back and think how the two separate issues of UK’s relationship with Europe, trade and sovereignty have developed. In the 60s the cry was for the UK to modernise: we were being left behind in the wake of the post-war US funded German economic miracle. Membership of the EEC trading bloc was the answer. But there were many Labour and Conservative voices warning that loss of sovereignty would be the eventual outcome. For most EU countries memories of invasion, atrocity and dictatorship are recent and raw. To prevent a return of such instability they have been increasingly ready to hand over national sovereignty to a relatively benign centralising, but in the British experience, authoritarian power. Mikhail Gorbachev went as far as to say the EU is simply the old Soviet Union dressed in Western clothes. De Gaulle said membership of the EEC would be difficult for the UK, we have always been reluctant to sign up to anything beyond a trade deal, we got Euro and Schengen opt outs. Cameron failed on immigration and proposed a two-speed Europe. For centuries, unlike mainland Europeans, we British have enjoyed the unbroken benefits of being a sovereign people - up until the recent, difficult decades that is. All Brexiteers want is a good trade deal. Reluctant Remainers want the same but worry about the mechanics of leaving. Together they make up a big majority for bringing back control. Parliament does not get this and wants to retrieve sovereignty from the people, abdicate and return control to Europe. What we need is a Parliament which represents and is able to implement the clear will of the people.
- Stephen, Totnes

Very well put Stephen – clearly researched and well written. Your first sentence sums up my exasperation with the situation – I have been shouted down on more than one occasion for not listening but I, like you, do take the time to understand what lies behind the headlines. A story in the BBC no less (hardly biased towards the Leave argument) that people may be interested in - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-46908205. For me, this is not an economic argument (although I do not buy into the crash out, chaotic, end of life as we know it rhetoric) but one of where our future lies. Remain is not the status quo as some people would argue – the EU is on a course for ‘Ever Closer Union’ – fiscal, political, military etc. – and, if you believe the report above, primarily driven by France and Germany. Do we climb on board all-in and follow along or do we seek to free ourselves to choose our own direction?
- Patrick, Brixham

EXTRAORDINARY THAT THE LEAVERS CANNOT THINK BUT REPEAT NONSENSE NON FACTS. IF WE MAKE OUR PAPERWORK LIKE OTHER MEMBERS IN THE EU WE GET EASIER MOVEMENT OF PEOPLE, GOODS, VEHICLES AND SAVE £46BN PER YEAR ON PAPERWORK IN THE PROCESS. IS GEORGE OF PAIGNTON AND HIS ILLITERATE RUBBISH EVEN IN THE CONSTITUENCY. FACTORIES ARE CLOSING, EUROPEANS ARE LEAVING, CROPS ROTTING, TOURISTS GONE. PRICES SHOT UP, SIZES DOWN. WAKEY WAKEY. INTELLIGENCE MUST PREVAIL, NOT THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE. EACH SHOULD DECIDE THEIR OWN FUTURE, WHICH THE EU GIVES US AND PRISON UK DOES NOT. RICHARD'S WASHINGTON POST AND CAROLANNE ARE TO BE READ AND INWARDLY DIGESTED.
- SIV WHITE

I am sick to death of the antics of remainer MPs who are deliberately taking every opportunity to wreck our chances of leaving the EU on acceptable terms. Leave means just that, it does NOT mean remaining in a customs union! Those warning of serious electoral consequences if Brexit is hijacked are right to do so. I am no extremist and I am certainly not a racist either, but if the leave vote is not respected I cannot see myself voting for any of the mainstream political parties again. Those working in the political bubble of Westminster and London have no idea how angry ordinary voters like me are getting. Please stop being obstructive and start being constructive, even at this late stage. It will make such a difference . . .
- David H

Sarah Wollaston continues to undermine our party in an attempt thwart the Referendum vote. Could we please have another election for a Conservative MP for Totnes, as clearly we 'did not know what we were voting for'. In the meantime suggest e-mails to the local association voicing our displeasure with the person we elected.
- John

A people's vote is simply a democratic-sounding phrase for requesting a choice between a non-existent or rejected EU agreement and staying in that manipulative organisation. Hardly a fair choice! Woolly thinking! Sadly, influential remainers dismiss the real option with emotive words like catastrophe and cliff-edge - instead of fairly discussing the pros and cons of WTO which we co-founded and UK and EU are members. You are wrong about the poor being worse off - price of basics like food, clothing, textiles can actually fall after Brexit, not rise, by becoming independent and reducing our tariffs. Just read the assessment by lawyers and ex-judges which followed the forced publication of the government's legal advice. It's conclusion? The positive advantages of leaving the EU without a trade agreement and without a withdrawal or transition agreement are enormous. Given the lack of EU cooperation, it is the only way forward which fulfills the decision of the British people to leave the EU. It hands back control and it leads to huge economic benefits. https://lawyersforbritain.org/leaving-the-eu-on-wto-terms-pulling-down-the-barriers-to-world-trade
- David Hopkins

The Prime Minister on Monday repeatedly made the point, that without agreeing her deal, trying to extend the Article 50 period only delays a ‘No Deal’ and needs agreement of all the other EU members, but revoking Article 50 doesn’t need that and prevents a ‘No Deal’ implementation. Parliament can discuss that via Amendments to her neutral motion next week. I was just wondering whether you think she was confident that no-one would be bold enough to do that and hence was able to float the idea more than once?
- DTR

A no-deal outcome would be so appalling for the Brixham fishing community, and yet the only real way of preventing this as we run out of time is to table an amendment for an agreement to revoke Article 50, and yet I understand you have had to pull your amendment to extend the period, due to lack of support. It seems tragic that our fishermen could lose their livelihoods because so much of their trade with the EU would be blocked by headstrong French fishermen retaliating against the loss of their fishing in our waters. Not the rosy future our guys thought they were voting for. They have been mislead, but the only way to stop it immediately is to revoke Article 50, but no-one is bold enough to do that.
- DTR

DTR- As independent coastal state, the UK will have the opportunity to move towards a fairer share of fishing opportunities - overhauling the current system where UK fishermen have received a poor deal that is based on fishing patterns from the 1970s. EU Member States currently land around eight times as much fish in UK waters than the UK does in EU Member States’ waters. The UK proposes a suite of measures to improve the sustainability of the fishing industry, supporting the next generation of fishermen while protecting our precious marine environment. Prime Minister Theresa May said: As an island nation our fishing industry is the lifeblood of coastal communities around the UK. I have been clear that when we leave the EU we will take back control of our waters. The plans set out today demonstrate the bright future in store as we build a UK fishing industry for future generations.
- John

Having read an article in New Statesman about the pros and cons of a no deal exit's impact on fishing ( https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/economy/2018/09/end-black-gold-how-no-deal-brexit-could-backfire-britain-s-fishermen ) and noting that such a respected local authority such as Jim Portus is highlighting the potential problems with exporting fish to the Continent, I do wonder whether things can really improve in that scenario. The bit about lack of patrol vessels also raises the question of how much the government really wants to take control of uK waters anyway!
- Francis South Brent

Clueless fickle woman. We had the arguments BEFORE the referendum. In fact REMAIN told most of the lies.
- Stu

I suppose it's too much to expect that Sarah Wollaston will not vote in a way that frustrates the 2016 Democratic Peoples Referendum. At least she could do the decent thing and abstain or resign !
- John

Dr Wollaston. You have tweeted about Sir James Dyson saying that he will go offshore. You may not have noticed but he paid £176m in taxes according to the Sunday Times. Also you are factually incorrect as what he is doing is setting up Interlectual Propert Rights (IP) in Singapore in relation to a venture to build electric cars for the Asian markets especially China. That is massively expensive and will require enormous investment most of which will come from the Far East. His IP for vacuum cleaners will remain in UK incurring UK tax. Also he is opening a College in Hullavington to build on his dream of creating more engineers for the UK. Leaving the EU still not change anything for his Company - remember most of the World trade is not European. Only 10% of global GDP. I think an apology is in order. At least try not to become as bad as other remainders and Brexiteers who are resorting to arguments better left in the playground. Be nice to have a few politicians who actually understand business and inport/exports. Try talking with James Dyson and you may learn something. Guess it won't change your mind but it may at least get you to see the realities on international trade.
- Andy

And so it continues. I was naive enough to think that this big push to remove ‘No Deal’ option was just because politicians had no idea how to negotiate – i.e. just when we are starting to see a little movement in some of the EU position, they want to remove our main (only real) bargaining chip! But then I realised, this has nothing to do with removing ‘No Deal’ but everything to do with stopping us leaving the EU. Just as the ‘Peoples Vote’ is nothing to do with democracy but everything to do with staying in the EU. Not surprised that you can’t get support for the ‘Peoples Vote’ – even politicians are realising that if you ask again (with a ‘fair’ question) the margin to leave could be even greater – no wonder you can’t get support for this. Stop the democratically voted for will of the people if you wish – but don’t be surprised at the consequences to the make-up of our Parliament in the years to come!
- Patrick, Brixham

No one can quantify Brexit or no Brexit as the future is unquantifiable and to continue suggesting otherwise is ridiculous. The future paths that we individually or collectively choose to travel will bring us to different futures. One and all will never know the outcome of a future unchosen as this path will never be known to anyone. This is the dilemma we face individually and collectively and no one can promise a certain outcome of any unknown paths that may be chosen. Therefore to Brexit or not to Brexit remains guesswork as both paths have potential to be fraught with difficulties,both paths could equally prove beneficial to the country. Who knows these answers?No one. And he who says he knows is a snake, a confidence trickster.
- Derek

True Derek, but we can at least see the direction in which the EU is going. Last week Junker said we must remove nation states in favour of a federation ! Sarah Wollaston has been in overdrive with 'project fear' and as you say, cannot actually lnow. Now that a second referendum is less likely it will be interesting to see what tricks she gets up to. Thanks to her, Soubrey, Grieve etc the Government have been hamstrung, contributing to the present difficult situation. What will it take for her to jump ship before being pushed ?
- John

Just received this from Government today. SW clearly does not respect the referendum result and democracy and will do anything to try and reverse the result. The Government’s policy is not to revoke the Article 50 notice. The British people gave a clear instruction to leave and we are delivering on that instruction. In 2016, almost three quarters of the electorate took part in the referendum and 17.4 million people voted to leave the European Union. This is the highest number of votes cast for anything in UK electoral history and the biggest democratic mandate for a course of action ever directed at any UK Government. In 2017’s General Election, over 80% of people then also voted for parties committing to respect the result of the referendum - it was the stated policy of both major parties that the decision of the people would be respected. The Government is clear that it is now its duty to implement the will expressed by the electorate in the referendum. The British people must be able to trust in its Government both to effect their will, and to deliver the best outcome for them. As the Prime Minister has said: “This is about more than the decision to leave the EU; it is about whether the public can trust their politicians to put in place the decision they took.” We recognise that to do otherwise would be to undermine the decision of the British people, and to disrespect the powerful democratic values of this country and this Government. To revoke the Article 50 notice would go against the referendum result and is not a course of action the Government feels we should take. The Government continues to be committed to delivering on the instruction given to us by the British people; working to overcome the challenges and seize the opportunities this brings to deliver an outcome which betters the lives of British people - whether they voted to Leave or to Remain. In doing so, we will honour the mandate of the British people and leave the European Union in a way which benefits every part of our United Kingdom and every citizen of our country. Whilst we note the judgment in the recent Wightman litigation, the Government's policy is not to revoke the Article 50 notice. Department for Exiting the European Union
- Fred Paignton

First trick of SW is a 10 minute bill, certain to fail. Please do the decent thing, resign, stand as an Independant; we deserve another 'Totnes People's Vote'.
- John

PS. Just seen Sarah on the Politics program. If the Conservative party follows a Brexit course she disagrees with, she'll resign the whip and stand as an Independent at the next election. I have to ask, why wait ?
- John

John and others here. What do you make of having to Bribe the DUP to support her views and today learn TM wants to offer extra payments ( read Bribes - as that is what it is ) to Labour constituencies to ensure the6 vote for her Deal . Is bribery not illegal , and made illegal by the Tories . A party i used to vote for before they ripped the guts out of our self respect and effectively spat in the face of our neighbours . Surely these bribes are not only illegal but unecessary . I alos question whether 17 miloin of the whole country is genuinely sufficinet to wreak a country . Do you fear a Second , more genuinely informed Referendum ?
- G david

Thank you for your continuing tenacious efforts to apply some critical thinking to Brexit, and for reaching out across the party devide to try and prevent no-deal’. The sight of 317 MPs waving order papers and cheering the utterly meaningless Brady-Malthouse amendment, and then abrogating responsibility by voting down the Cooper-Grieve amendment must have been a bitter disappointment. For me it was one of the low points of a dismal 2 years in which 40 or 50 Brexit fanatics seem determined to lead the country to sever all connections to the EU, wharever the cost to Ireland, the Union, or the Economy, and then in the same breath talk about a wide-ranging FTA. It is surreal to think that a 52-48 in-out referendum 2 years ago gives licence for this utter shambles, and it is depressing that so many MPs are acting like so many rabbits frozen in the headlights. As a country we seem to have lost a sense of proportion. Please don’t give up, although there will undoubtedly be critics, there are many who hope like me that you continue your efforts on our behalf with like-minded colleagues to reverse a chaotic Brexit.
- Bob

G david & Bob, I`ll try to answer you both. No I don`t like any form of bribery. Nor do I like people engaging in a democratic system, losing, then spending over 2 years griping and doing their best to subvert a necessary process. Like it or not we have a majority wins system, keeping to the result is essential in a democracy. Remember that the People and the Queen are Sovereign, not Parliament who are given an administrative roll for 5 years only; any change in the Constitution has to be assented by the People, Parliament doesn`t have that power. It`s because of this that we see MPs trying to frustrate the Will of the People by devious means. We don`t know how things will pan out, too much scaremongering and disinformation. Do not confuse the EU with Europe, the EU makes nothing, sells nothing, just taxes and issues directives. The EU is, I believe, a corrupt, self serving organisation that runs a protectionist racket ! The EU makes it clear that it wants to see the end of Sovereign states, replaced by a Federal system, with an army, unified taxation etc etc. Remember that our Common Law is supreme and does not allow transfer of any governance to a foreign power; if this is done by a statute it is illegal under Common Law. Common Law trumps Statutes, if this were changed we would be in a dictatorship, Hitler tried it !
- John

John, I'm no lawyer but I don't see where the bit about the people and the Queen being sovereign comes from. There isn't a single codified constitution as such but rather a number of sources of laws including Parliament as well as common law but Parliament has the ultimate right to change the law, any law, as it stands. That makes Parliament sovereign by the look of it.
- Francis South brent

Francis: suggest you learn about The British Constitution in relation to Common Law. Parliament can make Acts but not change Common Law; that's why they are Acts of Parliament rather than Laws of Parliament. Politicians would have you believe otherwise for convenience but their power is limited. If you're hauled up in court for breaking an Act and a jury finds you not guilty, the Act fails, the People decide what is acceptable. also Judges are non political and protect the People from despots ! That's just for starters, check it out.
- John

Sorry John, your take on common law doesn't stack up. All the references I look at make clear that common law is the set of laws that have evolved through the years largely through judicial rulings in court cases (= case law). The judicial decision is arrived at through looking at the current precedents set by case law and any Acts of Parliament that apply to the situation. If an Act specifically says something that counters previous precedent then that determines the decision for that case and case law changes as a result. If things didn't work that way we would still have slavery, children working down mines etc.
- Francis South Brent

Francis- read the rest !
- John

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