09 JAN 2019

Brexit Amendment

Over the past couple of days I have supported a series of amendments to try to reduce the risk of the U.K. crashing out of the EU on March 29th with No Deal. The Government must stop introducing deliberate delays and instead make serious plans for what happens if the Prime Minister's Deal is rejected. As there have been no changes to the legal text of the Withdrawal Agreement, rejection looks to be near certain and we do not have the luxury of time on our side with just 79 days to go until Brexit.

Yesterday I voted for an amendment that will prevent the Government implementing the "no deal" provisions of The Withdrawal Act without the explicit consent of Parliament.

In essence, this was about Parliament making it clear to Government that there is no majority for No Deal. That message was highlighted further during a cross Party meeting between the Prime Minister and over 200 MPs after we had written to set out our deep concerns about the damaging effect of No Deal on individuals, businesses and communities.

Today I supported a further amendment in order to reduce the timeframe for Government to return with its proposals about what should happen next if the Deal is voted down next week. The Government will now have 3 days rather than 21 days to respond.

This matters because of the very serious consequences that would follow if we left the EU in a chaotic manner and the increasing risk of that happening as a result of running out of time for any alternatives.

A majority of MPs won't support No Deal because of both the immediate and longer term damage this would inflict on our economy. The government's own forecasts predict that growth over the next 15 years without a deal would be 9.3% lower than it would otherwise have been on current terms.

WTO rules are not the panacea that some claim, British exports to the EU would be hit by tariffs of around £6bn. The cost of Imports would also be affected, increasing the cost of living in the UK.

There would be serious disruption to complex supply chains hitting many of our key manufacturers and also creating delays to the supplies many products including diagnostic supplies and medicines which are crucial to patients who rely on NHS care. Stockpiling and other No Deal planning costs are already running into billions and the Government could and should prevent this waste by ruling out No Deal.

But the avoidable problems created by No Deal extend beyond this to the major disruption to networks of cooperation in vital areas such as policing, security, research and travel.

We would all be affected and whatever the rhetoric from those who argue for No Deal, Britain would be far poorer, weaker and more isolated. No responsible Government or MP could vote to knowingly and deliberately inflict this on the people they represent. I and many of my colleagues would resign the Conservative whip if it became the Party's stated policy objective.

It is also time for Government to stop presenting this as a simple binary choice between the Prime Minister's deal and No Deal. Parliament has shown and will continue to demonstrate that it is not prepared to accept that.

44 comments

Sarah thinks she knows better than the little people. I have been enlisting support of fellow Conservative Members in the constituency to organise for the deselection of Mrs Wollaston. From speaking with people on the ground, I can be fairly certain that she will not represent us for long. Either she will be deselected, or the seat will be lost. Looking forward to the next election to get an MP with integrity and intelligence.
- George, Paignton

More project fear from Sarah and her cronies, in the corner of the house. SW is failing to support her party and PM and her behaviour is disgraceful. Using the familiar phrase "crashing out" when she should be promoting immense "opportunities" afforded by Brexit. I`m pretty sure SW voted for the referendum but as the result did not go her way she is trying to reverse Brexit. I`m pretty sure SW also voted for the withdrawal bill which means the deal is WTO terms if no deal agreed with EU. If TM`s deal is rejected the other deal on the table is the default WTO deal which would suit us fine if only the back stabbing MP`s would get on and implement the will of the majority of the British people. I knew what I was voting for , not sure if SW has been so sure.
- Fred.

Well done Sarah. You are one of the true brave 17 Tory heroes on the Grieve amendment standing up for everyone. Allen, Boles, Clarke, Djanogly, Greening, Grieve, Gyimah, Johnson, Lee, Letwin, Mitchell, Morgan, Neill, Sandbach, Soubry, Vaizey, Wollaston. If the Tories want to remain the party of Government, our next PM will be from this group. If not, the Tories will be utterly hammered in the polls, and become a UKIP shell.
- Richard

Agree completely with George. She should be deselected from this constituency before the next election. I for one, a Conservative voter all my life, will NOT vote for her again. Her energies put into local issues are pathetic, compared to the time she has used making trouble for the PM and paving the way for Corbyn.
- Cindy

Clearly Sarah Wollaston does not understand her role in a representative democracy. After a Referendum and General Election where a simple 'Leave' was the result and her party stood on a manifesto of implementing the result, she had only 2 choices, support her party or abstain. Instead we hear weasel words and attempts to undermine a democratic vote and her party at every possible opportunity. Yes she is entitled to have personal views that conflict with the results but not to act as she has. Like the rest of us she had one vote, by doing so she accepts the result, even if she dislikes it; 'Losers Consent'. The honourable thing would be for her to resign, possibly too much to expect; count me in George.
- John

Thank you Sarah for your brave stance on this - I am heartened by your common sense in what is swiftly becoming a perilous situation for the nation. No one voted in the referendum for the deal the PM has negotiated and anyone with an eye on the younger generation and their futures will know that No Deal would be an insult to them. Well done for staying level headed and clear thinking and thank you for the work you are doing.
- Angus

John, you spout on about representative democracy, but you clearly do not understand what it means. I refer you to Edmund Burke's address to the electors of Bristol where he makes clear the difference between a representative and a delegate: "Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion." http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch13s7.html
- Andy

Thank you Sarah for pointing out the folly of leaving with no deal, and all the chaotic consequences that would follow - however we each voted in 2016, surely none of us voted to become poorer, nor did we vote for stockpiling medicines and food and wasting £m's on a ferry company with no ships. If that is an indicator of the Brexit dividend then it reveals the marked absence of planning and foresight with a whiff of corruption
- Sylvia

You have let us all down, what don't you get, I voted Conservative, not for you, you have gone against the Conservative Manifesto, your Constituents, the People of the UK, and DEMOCRACY. Do you agree with one of your gang of 12 Anna Soubry, who declared on the night of the Referendum result, that all the people who voted to leave were mis- guided and stupid? she said the Bank of England would be closed for business by the following Thursday, and catasrophe would ensue. Myself and my family, (not all Leave supporters!!) will support your deselection , we are Conservatives, Join Jeremy and Mo Molam
- peter paignton

Very good Andy, although "spouting on" would be giving your view too much credit. So in that case why did the Conservative Party of which Sarah is a nominal member offer a referendum on the subject, why did the government of the day bother 33 million to vote in the referendum, why did it spend a fortune on the campaign, why did it use its taxpayer-funded propaganda to promise a once in a generation opportunity, why did it promise to implement the people's will and why did the party for which Sarah stood promise to respect the referendum result and withdraw from the Customs Union and Single Market? As for your lecture on Burke...that's your democratic inspiration is it?! No wonder you love the EU. A man who claimed that electing a Head of State was "utterly destructive of the unity, peace and tranquillity of a nation". He added “The road to eminence, and power from obscure condition ought not to be made too easy, nor a thing of much course”. Yes the plebs must know their place! Good luck getting popular support for that thesis! As Tom Paine said, “Immortal power is not a human right, and therefore cannot be a right of parliament”.
- George, Paignton

Almost correct Andy but in this case the 'representatives' gave the decision to the people by way of a referendum. This was necessary as, under the British Constitution, Parliament alone cannot give up any sovereignty without the consent of the 'People'. In other cases a representative is morally bound to 'keep their word' if they were elected having made promises. In relation to Burke, do not confuse 'your opinion' with. 'their promise to you', many a dictator would be otherwise legitimised !
- John

WITH A DEGREE IN THIS I CAN HEARTILY CONCUR WITH SARAH'S COMMENTS AND AM GLAD SHE WILL RESIGN THE WHIP OF A PARTY HELL BENT ON THE DESTRUCTION OF THIS COUNTRY, OUR WAY OF LIFE AND OUR FREEDOMS TO MOVE OURSELVES AND VEHICLES TO RETIRE OR LIVE IN EUROPE IF WE WANT. THE GOVERNMENT HAS SPENT WELL OVER HALF A TRILLION POUNDS RESCUING US FROM THE REFERENDUM SO FAR SUBSIDISING FINANCE AND BUSINESS. YOU PAY. STAY SAFE, IN CONTROL AND KNOWING WHERE YOU ARE. UK GOV RESPONSIBLE FOR MOST UK TROUBLES NOT EU. GET EDUCATION.
- sIV WHITE

TO JOHN. YOU FORGET MAY LOST HER MAJORITY IN HER ELECTION FOR BREXIT SO IT WAS NOT A VOTE FOR LEAVE. UKIP LOST ALL ITS MPS SHOWING YET AGAIN IT WAS NOT LEAVE, WHICH WAS SEEN AS A FIASCO WITH NO FUTURE DIRECTION OR POLICY. TO CINDY, OK SHE VOTED MONEY OFF SICK AND DISABLED AND PENSIONERS BUT SHE IS MAKING UP FOR IT NOW PROTECTING US AND OUR RIGHTS. DO SOME SERIOUS READING OR WATCH PARLIAMENT TV WILL YOU. YOU HAVE BOTH HAD TWO YEARS TO LEARN SOMETHING.
- SIV WHITE

TO FRED. IF WE LEAVE WITH NO DEAL NO PLANE WITH A BRITISH PART LET ALONE A BRITISH PLANE WILL BE ALLOWED TO LAND IN EU BECUASE IT WILL NOT BE CERTIFIED, THEREFORE NOT INSURED. IRISH AND WELSH LAMB WILL COST 88* TARIFFS TO GO TO EU WHICH IS 94% OF THEIR MARKET. GOVT IS PLANNIN TO KILL THIRD OF ALL OUR SHEEP TO KEEP UP THE VALUE. IF WE LEAVE WITH DEAL YOU HAVE ONE YEAR BEFORE THAT KICKS IN IF MAY STILL HAVE DONE NOTHING. INSTEAD OF PRIMITIVE TRIBALISM TRY RECOGNISING OTHER PEOPLE'S GREATER KNOWLEDGE.
- SIV WHITE

GEORGE, YOU MAY BE AN OUT AND OUT FASCIST WANTING TO GO ON RAMPAGE BUT ACTUALLY IF SARAH STOOD AS INDEPENDENT IT WOULD MAKE HER MORE ATTRACTIVE AS ANY TORY WOULD BE TAINTED WITH BEING BLIND TO THE DISASTER OF BREXIT . PEOPLE NEED TO REALISE THEY ARE BEING HIJACKED BY FASCISM, NO MORE NO LESS. NOW CALLED POPULISM. LOSING OUR INFLUENCE AND TEAM MATES AND MASSIVE EU GRANTS WILL COST US DEAR. IN EU WE PAY NO EU TARIFFS WHICH ARE 4 X GREATER THAN OUR PAYMENT TO THEM. THEY BUILT OUR ROADS, HOSPITALS, PORTS, AIRPORTS, SCHOOLS, REPAIR OUR BREAKWATER AND CHANGE AND LISTEN WHEN WE ASK THEM. WE ARE ONE OF 27 DECIDING WHAT EU DIRECTION WILL BE. EU ONLY EMPLOY 420 PEOPLE, IT IS NOT A GOVERNMENT OR DICTATORSHIP. YOU VOTE THERE. THEY PUBLISH AND CONSULT WHAT THEY DO, NOT LIKE MAY. STOP MISLEADING THE INNOCCENT
- SIV WHITE

Siv...Caps Locks. Typing in capitals makes you seem like a lunatic. And that's before you even read the tripe you've written. If Sarah wants to stand as an Independent, that could happen tomorrow. She deceived the people of Totnes in 2017, including Tory Party members who worked hard for her, and pretended to support a manifesto she abhorred. She could be honest with everybody and accept that she is no longer a Tory. Resign the whip, resign the seat, and let the people of Totnes decide. She won't do that, because she knows she'd lose. The rest of your message is just a boring dimwitted rehash of the argument you made unsuccessfully in June 2016. You lost then, and after reading that again, no bloody wonder.
- George, Paignton

Shouting will not help. Aim here is to stop Corbryn becoming PM. As for the issues about BREXIT. As a man who voted Remain the issues raised by SIV WHITE are flawed purely because for example, air travel is covered by international agreements out with the EU. Also the German economy amongst others exports more to us then we to them. Scaremonging doesn't help. Can you imagine the effect on Spanish and French farmers if their exports to us were majorly disrupted? Spain has 40% youth unemployment! Also as a net contributor to the EU to a sum of 9 bn not sure what SIV White is on about. Those grants is just our money coming back to us minus the 9 bn. No the issue is the Referendum was lost but our politicians from all sides can't accept it. Cornyn being particularly deceitful as a Bennite leaver without Tony Ben's intelligence. The EU always punishes those who don't play the EU integration game. Even if we stay we will lose our rebate be subject to more tax integration and defence conformity. And having worked in Brussels the EU employs thousands on better expense allowances than we in NATO had. I voted Remain because I knew what would happen.Better an imperfect world. Now we are here it is too late. We cannot go back to the past. Our MP needs to understand that. I will be abstaining during the next election if Dr Wollaston remains as our MP. A shame really as she is good for the South Hams.
- Andy

Sarah - please Ignore George , he is from Paignton. I would be bitter as well in such circumstance. You would think that he could see that this country faces far bugger issues that the white baby boomer gripe of being in the EU
- Rob

Insulting people because of their views "that way madness lies". It is important that everyone sets out their opinions without reverting to rude or mocking taunts or asides. If you resort to verbal attacks you diminish your argument. This is anything but a simple argument. And remember right now the EU is suffering from attacks on many sides including from Italy, Poland, Hungary before we look at the issues around the rise of AfD in Germany. So their negotiating aim has always been to make the heretics suffer, while trying to fend off the issues in the East and rise of nationalism. As the Irish often say " I wouldn't be starting from here" is apt. We are in a mess and I suspect a no deal or extension to Article 50 are the only way forward. Realism is now needed rather than idealism.
- Andy

I agree with George, Sarah should quit the Tory party and and make room for someone who supports the result of the referendum. I have supported the Tory Party all my life but will not support Sarah at the next election. Scare mongering about a no deal won’t work. I worked in the EU prior to us joining and there were No problem flying to or moving between EU states. I would support a campaign to remove Sarah Wollaston as the representative of the South Hams constituency.
- David

This woman and her barmy ideas does NOT represent me or my family. We are all democrats here and expect the people's decision to be honoured. I've never voted for another party but in the absence of a satisfactory alternative I will abstain if Dr W and Mrs May are still in place.
- Michael

Democracy is not a one off. We have general elections regularly, the last one came 2 years after the one before. Lets have a public vote on the brexit deal. As the tory party can't agree if they like it or not, (or even if they like their leader) and the deal will get voted down, the someone has to make a decision. No deal will be a disaster and parliament will never allow it. Let the people take control (remember that slogan "take control") and wecan move on from there.
- Bob

Sarah, if you block the implementation of Brexit in any form, not only will I not vote for you again I will simply never vote again. All trust we had in our demicratic process will evaporate so there will be no point in voting
- Paul

If Conservative MP's such as you pitch Parliament against the people I'm afraid you mustn't be surprised at what happens. I for one shall work for any party that promises a clean Brexit and if that means holding my nose whilst voting UKIP so be it
- Oscar

It's clear that Sarah will most likely lose at the next General Election; after admittedly colluding with the opposition, should she not 'do the right thing' and resign the party whip now ?
- John

Sarah, I voted for you in last election so you could vote for me on Brexit but all you are doing is making a mess of it all. I live in Brixham and used to be a fisherman so I understand about being let down by our government and the European union. We have been fighting for a better deal for years but all that happens is more disappointment and regulation to make it harder for a hard working person to make a honest living, and you not supporting your own voters is disgraceful. Pete
- Pete

Dr Woolleston you are a disgrace. We in Devon voted Out of EU, and you were elected knowing this but you have gone back on your word and your parties manifesto just because you think you know better than anyone else. You are not the only one and the whole of the Members of parliament should be sacked and a new lot who do respect their constituents put in place. I have voted all my life as I feel that it’s right to have a say in this Wonderful Country’s future, but if you and the politicians who are laughably supposed to be there to represent the constituents disregard the Vote to LEAVE then I shall never vote again.
- Elizabeth Dowling

1) The people are sovereign - if you don't accept that then revolution will ensue and the streets will run red. 2) The people delegate their sovereignty to elected representatives who run the country using their own judgement. 3) If enough of us dislike their judgement then we can remove them at the next regular election. 4) Sometimes our representatives are either incapable of making an important decision or consider the issue so important that it must be referred back to the people. 5) Once the people decide according to the rules of the referral the representatives must implement the overall decision or resign. 6) Resigning triggers an election where the issue is effectively voted on again considering all the circumstances and all the views and promises of those standing for election. 7) A sufficient majority voted for leave. And then an election was called which produced a majority of candidates of all parties who either supported leave or who didn't but yet promised to carry out the decision of the first vote. Our sovereignty was thus maintained but if any fight against the first decision and its endorsement, those representatives will be responsible and will suffer the consequence mentioned in (1).
- Jean Xavier

Jean Xavier. In this case your no.6 is void as there is now a EU Withdrawel Act in place and has to be implemented by whoever is in power. (Unless a new Act is created, which would be against the ratified will of the people).
- John

With respect to all, may I share what I feel are Principles, upon which action must be based, that help us all recognise integrity. 1. A Majority of all those who chose to vote, voted Leave 2. As a Democrat I respect that "Majority", so I believe should all MPs. 3. My MP and those for whom others voted and now represent were elected on a Party Policy to "Leave", over 80 percent of the Electorate, if to Remain was your most important issue the Lib Dems were asking for your vote. 4. The date to Leave is set in law at 29th March 2019. 5. All MPs must now vote either on the deal that has taken 2 years to negotiate and which has the support of 27 united EU Members or if no cross Party compromise can be achieved, then with no agreement. Remember how many Labour MPs supported Heath's entry in the first place. For what it's worth I wrote to Sarah asking her to vehemently argue for a cross party negotiating team as we could all see this is not a Party issue it remains decision of the greatest National Interest. Finally, for Remainers like myself, we were actually always "In but Out" and I am sure we will end up "Out but In." All this has done is turn the Conservative Party Inside Out, and now Upside Down. Keep Smiling, and realise how privileged we are to be discussing this with out Bombs and Bullets....well thus far !
- Martin Beck

The referendum vote in 2016 was counted on district councils not parliamentary constituencies (see BBC election night coverage). Sarah's mandate cannot be based on her constituents as in a general election but as an approximate fit to for instance South Hams which in fact voted 52.9% to remain. That aside I'm not quite sure why people are so determined to leave despite the difficulty our 'best' politicians have experienced negotiating and obtaining a deal that pleases anyone. Maybe they didn't try hard enough or it might just be too difficult to extricate our economy from its intricate links with other countries in the time Article 50 allows. Or if a no deal Brexit Is the goal why has there been so little progress negotiating deals with non-EU economies? I think I'd prefer a backup plan if we leave without a deal personally and I don't see one emerging. Those who still fancy crashing out generally have the substantial resources to sustain themselves in the event our economy sees a dip (Jacob Rees Mogg for one) and may even be able to benefit. Or maybe it is just all 'Project Fear' but I'm not confident myself. I'd rather take time to take stock and change my mind if the facts change. Maybe now's the time to reflect on what's been achieved.i is it what the people who voted to leave wanted in 2016?
- Helen

Helen, your post is rather heavy on dodgy logic. In a democracy, where you have a vote amongst opposing views, you will always have disappointed losers. We survive by the losers accepting the result, by voting at all you agree to accept the outcome. The present situation is because Mrs May did not want to leave and was incapable of fulfilling her duty, clear from the fact that she was scheming to undermine her Brexit Minister. Leaving offers so many more opportunities for the country than remaining; within a couple of years it's likely that people will have forgotten they had wanted to remain. The world is comprised of optimists and pessimists, never be led by a pessimist; optimists are the ones that get the prizes !
- John

Thank you Sarah for being outspoken about the consequences of a no deal and for your support for the amendment. I am also encouraged by your support for a second referendum. I find it an affront that when we were given the vote for such a major constitutional change that a simple majority was considered sufficient, particularly when the consequences (good or bad) were very confusing, to say the least. It is interesting that a majority of 66% in favour is required when MPs vote for a General Election. Why were constituents not treated similarly in the referendum?
- Nic

"The noble one is not a mere instrument"– Confucius. Sarah, I believe you are showing that you are not just a cog in the machine. Though you may lose your current position, if you're doing what's right, it will be for the best in the end. To those who take grievance from her actions: We are all individuals here; nobody is forced to do what you want them to do. If you are unhappy with what they do, tell them calmly the reasons why and they will listen to you calmly. They are not necessarily trying to go against you; perhaps they are trying to do what they think is right and best in their situation. Maybe something they can see from their vantage point makes that course of action look better than it does from yours, and not just personal gain. I'm not saying that for instance a councillor is superior to a voter; but being directly involved in the political process she may see some things more clearly. Maybe her actions will unexpectedly turn out good for you. Even if Sarah didn't do what you wanted her to do, it doesn't mean she has something against you. You can assume that Sarah is out to get you, or out to gain something for herself, and get all worked up and angry, but I'm not sure how much good that does either of you or us as a whole. I'm sure she knows that people are suffering from the way things are; but to make a real and lasting change for the better can't necessarily happen in an instant, nor may the process take precisely the path you want it to. Maybe what seemed like a good step at one point in time, now doesn't seem like such a good step. This is not necessarily evidence of someone's intention turning against you, or evidence that they were against you all along; perhaps it is just them acting strategically, updating their course moment-by-moment, still aiming for the best result for all of us in the end. To those who say asking for a second referendum is going against democracy; if a first referendum is democracy, how is a second referendum not also democracy? Can the people not change their minds? Changing one's course mid-way in this case is not necessarily a sign of weakness or "flip-flopping"; it is a sign of flexibility and awareness. It is a sign of strength to admit that you were wrong. Some argue that having seen the result but being "sore losers", those in government made the whole process difficult just because of their soreness. Maybe there is some soreness there. But that wouldn't be the whole picture. The other side of the picture is that it is indeed difficult to do something like this well and cleanly. Maybe we need a breather. If the country still doesn't like the result, maybe we can have a third referendum :) more and more referendums means a better and better democracy, right? In any case, we can see that the whole issue is still controversial; so another referendum can be considered a refinement in the democratic process... I would like to ask if those who have such trust in democracy can trust it once again. Maybe the "will of the people" can change. Those who say "the losers have to accept the result", surely wouldn't object to "losing" a second referendum if the new, more informed, democratic will of the people changed from the last time? There are pros and cons. You can object that a second referendum is "forced", "sore losing". But you can also say that a second referendum benefits from having had time to reflect further on the matter. I hope that people can see the benefit of it.
- James

Many thanks Sarah for once again representing the best interests of the people of the UK and voting as you have. Now the quicker parliament puts in place what’s necessary to prevent a ‘No Deal’ exit the better for everyone. And then let the people decide - either Theresa Mays ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ or ‘Remain’ People can cast a vote based upon the facts and not on the nonsense articulated by Champions of Leave in the last referendum. Again, many thanks.
- Peter

Dr Wollaston, Peter and all who want a second referendum – I have absolutely no issue with a 'fair' referendum - I don’t think it would change anything and perhaps lead to even more division. However, the question suggested by Dr Wollaston and many of you for a ‘Peoples Vote’ – i.e. Remain or Mays (overwhelmingly rejected) Deal – is as far from right and democratic as I think it is possible to be. Where is the real Leave option? Why is Dr Wollaston and other ‘Peoples Vote’ supporters determined to not present this as an option? “….You can have a ‘Peoples Vote’ but you won’t have the option to really Leave…!” Those who support a second referendum do you really want a ‘Peoples Vote’? Or do you want to Remain in the EU at all costs? At least be honest about it – but please acknowledge that those who don’t wish to remain in the EU deserve an option to vote for if you have any belief at all in democracy.
- Patrick, Brixham

For the sake of Democracy , we need a second referendum . If there is anyone here or anywhere else who does not now realise we were lied to in the run up to the Referendum. How can we be proud of that ? We know so much more now . What would you have to lose to have another , but more informed referendum . This time , we are quite sure that Turkey is not going to join the EU and 700k wont come straight to the UK for benefits and the we know that the NHS wont get 350m Extra a week - but actually may not have the EU staff to look after us if we did opt out . If they do , it will be becasue we have opened more doors to non europeans ( i have no problem with that ). We know we will lose skilled people , who will go home . We know our mobile phone bills will be higher when we go on hols. We also know that the once strong London banking sector that paid x billions into the Treasury , wont pay those billions once its jobs have been fully exported to Paris , Frankfurt, Holland and other places . We know that WE will have to pay extra in tax to fill that gap ( or perhaps we have yet fewer services from government spending ) or perhaps we borrow more , at higher interest rates and and and . Come on , anyone who is sane knows this execise was a complete waste of time , money , energy . There are so many other things to worry about in life , why was this issue chosen. For the sake of sanity , another vote very soon and get on with it before we have to lay off even more staff .
- G David

Given that our MPs cannot support May’s Deal or No Deal, we need a second referendum. I think the ballot paper should be: Answer Question 1 and Question 2. For each question, vote by putting a cross in the box next to your choice. Question 1 Should the United Kingdom leave the European Union, or reverse its decision and remain a member of the European Union? Leave the European Union [ ] Remain a member of the European Union [ ] Question 2 If the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, should it exit under the terms of the deal agreed between the British Government and the European Union, or exit with no deal? Leave with the deal agreed between the UK and the EU [ ] Leave with no deal [ ]
- Tim

A lot of Remainers just repeating the same tired arguments they had before June 2016. You lost then and as time ticks on, you're losing now. Perhaps change the record. If it involves staying in the EU, I stopped listening two and a half years ago. The EU was always anti-democratic. Now it cheerleaders are showing themselves for anti-democratic bad losers. Happy to have another vote. But the people have already decided to Leave. They did not vote to "leave with a deal" or leave with any other caveat. Just Leave. So it has to happen one way or another. Remain could not be on the ballot paper for any other reason than the establishment don't like the view expressed by the people. Hard luck. The only question is what sort of Leave. So the choices would be Leave with May's deal, or leave without her deal. Her agreement is so bad that I suspect most would vote against it. In any case, unless the government proposes legislation and gets a majority of MPs to vote FOR something (and not just against), then we will leave on WTO terms in ten weeks. I'm fine with that.
- George, Paignton

Couldn't agree more George. It seems there's an abundance of people that agreed to participate in a vote with the intention of ignoring the result if it wasn't to their liking; bad faith. A democracy relies on good faith in these situations. Instead we see 'smoke & mirrors', 'muddying the waters', weasel words and worst of all the claim people didn't know enough. In a democracy, with any vote, you could claim that some didn't know enough. The Referendum was In or Out, with the promise that Government would implement the decision, this was then part of major party manifestos and then put in to law. The 'correct' path is to try to get a good deal, failing which we leave on WTO rules as embodied in law, yet we have politicians like Sarah Wollaston doing their best to subvert the people's will, claiming that they are representatives not delegates. On this issue they are delegates, change in sovereignty has to be put to the people under the Constitution ! Time to move on, if we don't like being outside the EU, we can rejoin.
- John

Why are some people so scared of another referendum? Is it that they think they might lose? If you are so convinced that we should leave, then man up and grow some. Take on the 48% and see what happens.
- bob

So resign and good riddance. Don’t forget we had a referendum because Cameron was afraid of UKIP. If you cheat us out of leaving, how much support do you suppose will flip back to to UKIP?
- John D

I have tried to engage with Dr Sarah and have come to the conclusion we need a second vote.. Clearly we did not know what we were voting for at the last election when Dr Sarah stood on a manifesto to leave, respecting the referendum result.. Anyone who supports their government in a vote of confidence, but will not support their negotiated position and calls for remain, pretending it is in the interest of the people to rerun the election, should resign the party and stand down so we have a choice who should represent us based on their actual beliefs rather than a lie.
- Giles, Paignton

Spot on Sarah. The true facts and catastrophic impacts of the no deal are now clear. The decision should now be taken to the people in the light of this. BREXIT cannot be delivered in the way that it was sold.
- Paul Church

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07 JAN 2019

The NHS Long Term Plan

I welcome the NHS Long Term Plan, which is wide ranging and ambitious. It rightly celebrates the successes of the NHS but is realistic about the scale of the challenge to meet relentlessly rising demand and to improve services. It acknowledges the pressure on staff as a result of the workforce shortfall and the urgent need to upgrade facilities including digital resources.

It is one of the greatest triumphs of our age that we are living longer but more of us are living with complex and long term conditions and there are widening inequalities in the degree to which both young and old are living in poorer health. There also remains an unacceptable variation in outcomes and experiences for patients from one area to the next even where that cannot be accounted for by resources or local challenges.

The Plan sets a number of priorities such as making sure that a greater share of NHS resource goes to mental health, especially for children and young people as well as to GP and wider community services. It lays out a number of proposed improvements to major areas such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and respiratory disease as well as a welcome focus on children and young people.

I'm glad to see the Plan accept the recommendations of the Health and Social Care Committee on closer joined up working across the NHS. Not only to bring truly integrated services with social care but to break down unnecessary barriers between GPs and hospitals, and between mental and physical health. Some of these artificial barriers could be better cleared if there were changes to legislation, including to help reduce wasteful and bureaucratic competitive procurement rounds and to allow a greater priority for joint cooperative working rather than competition. The HSCC recommended that any legislative proposals should be designed by and come from those working in and alongside the NHS, rather than as top down proposals from government.

The success of the Plan will depend on having the NHS and Social Care workforce to deliver it and much will also depend on the Spending Review settlement ahead. The 3.4% average annual uplift for NHS England over the next 5 years does not include the public health grants which are central to prevention of ill health and reducing inequality, grants which this year are continuing to fall. Nor does the NHS settlement include the crucial funding for Health Education England which covers education, training and professional development.

The Plan also makes clear that it cannot deliver without a stable and realistic long term settlement for social care. The government's Social Care Green Paper is expected within weeks and it is not possible to fully assess the NHS Long Term Plan without also seeing the long term proposals, including the financial settlement, for social care.

Likewise for capital funding, which is also due to be announced in the Spending Review later this year, because this will underpin new facilities, technology and equipment as well as tackle a worrying maintenance backlog.

The Plan proposes to fund evidence-based NHS prevention programmes, including to cut smoking; to reduce obesity, doubling enrolment in the successful Type 2 NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme; to limit alcohol-related A&E admissions; and for the NHS to contribute to lowering air pollution for example. But for these to be successful there will also need to be cross government action with a willingness to be prepared to look at tackling health inequality and prevention in all areas of policy as these big issues cannot be properly tackled in isolation by the NHS.

In many ways the Plan mirrors themes and priorities that were also set out in the last long term plan, the 5 Year Forward View, many of which remain unfinished business. The last plan was undermined by the cuts to social care, public health, capital and training budgets and it is important not to see this repeated. It is also important to recognise the many important changes that did get underway and a number of successful pilots are highlighted as pointing the way ahead for what delivers better and more joined up health and care for patients. This new plan will be trying to make sure that the best care is delivered everywhere rather than as scattered examples of best practice and that Integrated Care Systems make sure that all parts of the wider health system are working together more effectively.

My view is that there will need to be access to the up-front resources to transform services in the same way as is often available to pilot projects for them to succeed, and to cover the double running costs that make sure that new facilities are in place before old services are dismantled. It is also important to allow time for changes to demonstrate an effect. In the short term new ways of working may even appear to increase costs but if in the longer term they help to prevent conditions worsening and reduce the need for more expensive treatments down the line that is in the best interests of individuals as well as reducing long term demand.

It is easy to end up talking about systems but all those tasked with delivering this ambitious Plan must above all keep the needs of patients, families and communities at the heart of everything they do.

5 comments

Our daughter's local hospital in London says it cannot hire new staff, and Europeans are moving back to the Mainland. It plans to open a branch hospital in Calais, which should work, but could you approach Ms May to ask that those ambulances be given priority on the ferries, to avoid the lorry park in Kent?
- Richard

Anything to help the NHS is a positive as it is a service for all. The staff always making every difficult situation work as best they can with the resources available to them. I do however have a question Sarah..We have thousands of GP Surgeries all over the UK with good facilities why do they shut at night if they were able to stay open it would take a lot of pressure from our overstretched Hospitals also working people would be able to see a Doctor without losing time off work it does seem a big waste of a perfectly good building not used to its full capabilities.
- S BRUUS

Thanks Sarah. I think your comments on social spending are very important. In answer to S Bruus, I am a retired GP and married to one still working. Keeping GP surgeries open seems attractive but for two problems. One is staffing - we could take doctors, nurses and administration staff from hospitals to work in GP Surgeries but that would defeat the object. The second is that GP Surgeries are not trained or equipped to deal with Accidents and Emergencies. A far better solution is to improve access to GP Surgeries during the day, and leave A&E work to the experts.
- Simon Lansdown

Further to my previous comment. All the NHS Doctors (GPs and Consultants) I know are highly stressed. Numerous are retiring at the earliest opportunity (many under age 60) and many are going off sick. Opening extra clinics etc will not solve the staffing crisis. I have heard that on Boxing Day this year, there was an out of hours GP service in a local Surgery. There was only one patient booked and for that one person there was a GP, a HCA, a Nurse and a Receptionist all being paid by the taxpayer. When I was a young GP I did evening surgeries and I worked from 8am until the last patient left (sometimes as often as 10 at night). I found that quite unbearable.
- Simon Lansdown

Wouldn't it be nice if this was the last NHS reorganisation for quite a few years. I started work in the NHS in 1972 and it was being reorganised then, and it seems that about every five years the politicians come along and have another good meddle with it. The Lansley reforms tore apart a system which worked well and wasted a shedload of cash in a move designed to prepare the NHS for privatisation. Now that is being chucked out as introducing competition hasn't worked. Please will the politicians stop treating the NHS as a political football.
- Bob

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19 DEC 2018

Brexit Update 9.30am

It is now just 100 days until we are due to leave the EU and businesses, public services and the Public Accounts Committee are again producing evidence and warnings that the UK is unprepared for the shock of a No Deal Brexit with no transition. Any talk of 'managed no deal' is no more than a dangerous delusion and no more reassuring than a 'managed' car crash. No responsible government could knowingly inflict this kind of pain on the people and I could not remain a member of the Conservative Party if they made that their main policy objective to deliver such a disastrous outcome. No one voted for economic, health and social problems on the scale that would be unleashed in the event of a chaotic exit at very short notice.

I will continue to campaign in Parliament for the people to have the opportunity to examine and give their own verdict on the Prime Minister's deal with an alternative option to remain.

Many people have asked what I would do if the result were the same and Britain voted to leave. The answer is straightforward, I would do all I could to make that work in the full knowledge that we would be going forward together as a nation with informed consent. It is not asking the people that undermines trust in democracy, rather it would be to blunder ahead with plans that neither please the 48% nor the majority of the loudest campaigners for Leave.

19 comments

To those who say that a second referendum would be undemocratic: then refer to definition of democracy. The people cannot betray the people. To those who say that it would be divisive: I doubt there has ever been a country more divided than we are now. And to those, like Mrs May herself, who say that we should all get behind her deal to unify the country?--why should we, it's a shoddy half backed deal that will do irreparable harm. May has had her narrow focus on immigration and ignored the views and concerns of the wider public, Scotland, the sciences, our manufacturing business and the service sector from the moment she took office. Bring on the second referendum. The only hope left is for the better UK that it might bring. And if it doesn't, so be it: then it will be crystal clear that the time has come to abandon this country.
- richard

'I would do all I could to make it work' says Sarah. Yet she has spent 2 years undermining her party in an attempt to not make it work. She should back the Referendum result so we can move forward together but she won't because she disagrees with the result. Her. Informed consent arguement is not only inaccurate but foolish, we cannot know what is ahead either in or out of the EU. We do know that for many years the EU has been undemocratic and corrupt, I doubt that it's about to change. Sarah has a low opinion of her countryfolk, I believe we can do better outside the EU than in; how about a bit of self belief Sarah !
- John

The more interesting question for Sarah would be "what would you do if the vote was to remain, and the situation changed again (as it surely will, as the EU moves towards ever closer union). Would we have another referendum to ensure that the choice of the British people is fully informed?". Surely the logic of her current argument would apply equally to another referendum. And indeed to further referenda endlessly because events always change. The bottom line is that people voted to leave. This was an instruction of the British people. A much more direct and clear instruction than even a general election. It should happen. If subsequently the people change their minds, then they should elect a government committed to a referendum and campaign to re-join the EU.
- George, Paignton

You are doing a fantastic job, stick to your principles! Government is putting its electorate in harms way and is using every strategy, including the blackmail of Parliament ( 'May's Way' or the Highway over 'Brexit Cliff') to secure the Prime Minister's inadequate deal. If it ever delivered on this foul threat it would create such chaos that our people would suffer for a generation. We are a representative Democracy and other MPs should reflect on their duty. Those who trumpet our taking back of Parliamentary sovereignty should reflect on that and step up to the plate. Delaying or revoking article 50 is going to be needed to buy time for a People's vote . 'Above all do no harm' was instilled in you as a Doctor and many of your Parliamentary colleagues on all sides of the house would do well to adopt this principle. To use your metaphor the consent form for the radical operation that was proposed in 2016 has, in the light of subsequent research, been revealed as most probably very dangerous to the health of the patient. Will Dr Parliament , deny Patient UK the chance to reconsider her consent and wheel her kicking and screaming into the operating theatre? This horror story cannot be allowed to materialise. Keep up the good work!
- Peter

Keep up the good work? Yes ignore people, tell them they made a mistake, overrule their wishes and tell them that doctor knows best...how to discredit the political system and the medical profession at the same time and give the far right the biggest boost ever.
- Steven Spence

Wheel the patient in! The doctor saying "no you made your decision back in 2016, you can't change your mind!" Two years ago the patient was only 52% sure an operation was required. She has been doing some independent research of her own every day since then and wants a chance to exercise her rights over her own body. She wants to decide for herself. No one is saying she made a mistake two years ago. The metaphor places Government in the role of a Doctor who didn't put the patient in a truly informed position. How can giving her a chance to exercise her choice be telling her she has made a mistake? That's why consent is an active process. If a doctor acted towards a patient in the way Government is acting towards the electorate it would be committing assault.
- Peter

Peter, now that you have exhausted that metaphor. Can you tell me one occasion when you or anyone else supporting a People's Vote has suggested that we have a referendum on any European issue before. Maastricht? The Euro? Amsterdam? Nice? Even the original EU Referendum? I suspect not. But now things are going against you, you are the biggest fan of referenda going. You want two votes on this issue, but were not prepared for one on any of the other issues. With all due respect, people see you and the entire People's Vote brigade for the charlatans they are.
- George, Paignton

George, We didn't have a referendum on Maastricht, The Euro, Amsterdam or Nice, because we live in a representative democracy where Parliament is sovereign. The problem now is that Parliament is incapable of making a decision on the the outcome of the referendum and as they turned some sovereignty to the people. The only way to make another decision is to ask the people again in another referendum.
- Simon

George, I'm not sure that metaphor it's exhausted. However to answer your question; I am not a fan of referenda at all, but a big fan of our British Representative Democracy. The whole thing is a disaster. Both Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher were highly suspicious of referenda (Thatcher referenced Attlee in a Lancaster House speech, she shared his view that referenda are 'alien to our Constitution and the tool of demagogs and dictators.') Remember that at the time of the 2016 referendum there was an overwhelming majority for Remain in Parliament. However once David Cameron was very cleverly out-manoeuvred by a small cabal of eurosceptic M.P.s ( looking no doubt to benefit from a post Brexit de-regulated Singapore style off-shore tax haven economy ) we were sunk. Inflict years of austerity on vast swathes of the electorate, then offer them a referendum and tell them if they vote Brexit they're going to have £350 million/ week for the NHS and an improvement in their prospects with no down sides and the result is not that surprising.. It's not looking so good now is it? If you think it is, you haven't been looking at the weight of evidence building against your analysis. Parliament, not the people, made a huge error in giving us the 2016 referendum, when as our representatives, they overwhelmingly viewed the EU as a net benefit to our people. Don't use 'with all due respect ' then show absolutely none, by name calling, you have thereby undermined your position. If a new referendum is called by our Parliamentary representatives, so be it, I'll exercise my democratic right and vote. Personally I'd prefer Parliament to exercise its true British Sovereignty and vote to revocate Article 50 but I can understand that a second referendum is likely to be its final preference.
- Peter

Mass hysteria everywhere! (Some) MPs running around like headless chickens clucking – “If we leave the EU Club without a deal, the world we end as we know and the sky will fall in! I have a cunning plan! The deal is rubbish – everyone knows this. But let’s offer them a referendum; no call it a ‘Peoples Vote’; that gives them the choice of the rubbish deal or to not leave at all – everyone will want to Remain!” My, my, what would our parents/grandparents/great grandparents who lived through real hardship and two world wars think of us now? Please get a grip – I can’t see the mass hysteria in the EU with the contingency plans they have put in place in the last few days – eminently sensible from their perspective. Let’s get our contingency plans in place and continue to talk. If we can’t agree before we leave, let’s reciprocate where necessary and implement our plans, but carry on talking. It is in the long term interest of all to come to an agreement – anyone in business knows this! Anyone who has negotiated a complex business deal knows this! Now, Dr Wollaston and your fellow MPs, cut out the hysterical nonsense, act more like the responsible adults you are and carry out the express wishes of the electorate which you originally agreed to do so and signed up to with your manifesto. If you and your fellow elected MPs are unable to do this – please move aside for someone who can.
- Patrick, Brixham

Parliament has made a decision. Surprised you hadn't noticed. It has passed primary legislation that we will leave the EU at 11pm on 29 March 2019. I'm looking forward to that. Unless it passes contrary primary legislation, then that is what will happen. The inability to act on a simple instruction from the people would indicate that our parliament represents only itself, and not the people. That would be a strange sort of representative democracy. History suggests that parliaments that act contrary to the views of the people they purport to represent rarely live happily every after. The greatest danger to this country is not some phantom warning about the economic consequences of national independence. It is the threat to our democracy from a political elite who do not give tuppence for the clearly expressed view of the British people.
- George, Paignton

It's important to remember that under the British Constitution Parliament cannot embark on surrendering or changing sovereignty without going to the people, ie. A Referendum.
- John

George and Patrick. I can tell you have strong views. I can suggest a reading from Mathew 13:9 "He who has ears let him hear". Please don't try to deny others the opportunity to express their view on their future via a referendum.
- richard

Richard, quite right. Please don't try to deny others the implementation of a referendum result after they have expressed their view on their future ! Once implemented by all means go for another referendum if it starts to go bottom up, otherwise eat humble pie.
- John

Richard – vary condescending and may I say, quite insulting comment – my views have been very factual and I have not insulted anyone and have full respect for your views. I have listened to all the arguments (and I mean all arguments) including the latest story in the respected Irish Examiner newspaper about the Irish backstop – look it up if you’re interested although it may not fit in with your view of where we are! My last comment may have been a bit flippant – but can anyone not see the irony of whole situation? I am a traditional Tory voter – my main fear is that the Tory party will be wiped out if they continue down the current path – perhaps that is the agenda of some of the Remain supporters. I am tired of being insulted as a thick, old brexiteer whose views are wrong! If Remain had won the referendum. I would have accepted the view of the majority and moved on. As I have said many times before, I have no problem with another referendum – but please present a fair one – not the one our MP is advocating i.e. a discredited deal no one wants v Remain or even the option of a referendum that will split the leave vote between 2 Leave options v 1 Remain option. This is the first time I have ever added comments to any blog or political discussion – and probably will be my last. All I ask in a forum such as this is facts – please keep on posting factual information which I do read and it may help to persuade me to change my mind – rather than telling me I don’t listen!
- Patrick, Brixham

Let there be peace. Come the new year peace will reign across the land and Parliament will resume and recognise this peace and in recognising this peace will vote favourably for Brexit and achieve a magnificent outcome that recognises the people's vote of '16 . This will bring further peace and goodwill into the distant future and the country will live happily without outside interference. I see further peace being achieved in the next general election when we the people exercise our democratic process and elect an entirely different set of parliamentarians and progress further with our new unified and refreshed government. May the peace reign long and long may the future parliamentarians desist from hypocrisy. Who called me a stupid woman?
- Derek

Very good Richard. I'm lot altogether sure that the Gospel of Matthew was suggesting that government should hold endless referenda and postpone any action until you are satisfied with the result. Your freedom of speech is protected with rights guaranteed long before 1973. And when you seek to use a governing elite to frustrate the clearly expressed view of the British people, I have the same right to hold you in contempt.
- George, Paignton

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

The current withdrawal agreement cannot and must not be accepted by Parliament. Our country and it's people deserve better than that! As for 'Plan B' there are only two options that fulfill the mandate delivered by the referendum vote: 1. Canada Plus, Plus, or 2. WTO (or No Deal as Remainers like to call it) These are the only options that result in us LEAVING the EU and being completely free to pursue lucrative new free trade deals around the world e.g. US, Asia-Pacific, India, Australia and New Zealand. THIS is where the real Brexit dividend can be found, NOT tying ourselves to the sinking ship of the EU.
- David H

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13 DEC 2018

Brexit Update 8.45am

Last night's confidence vote has clearly demonstrated that there is no majority in the Conservative Party in the Commons, let alone across Parliament, for the hard Brexiteer's vision of Brexit. I supported the PM in last night's vote. The inescapable truth is that the Withdrawal Agreement and Future Framework will not pass the Commons either but it is the only realistic negotiated version of Brexit. We have reached deadlock and sooner or later the PM will have to take her deal direct to the people or risk us crashing out in a chaotic Brexit with inadequate transition arrangements in place. Britain is woefully unprepared for that and no responsible government could allow that to happen.

This whole episode was unwelcome and unnecessary but at least we will all be spared the weekly threats of the '48' letters for at least a year and the PM should now stop trying to appease the right wing of the Party.

32 comments

Wholly and completely agree. Coming from someone who would rather a full leave or remain choice. Too many people on here protecting their personal view at all cists rather than what is good for the country and miilions of YOUNGER generation who will be deeply affected by thus. Why are some so desperate to avoid a 2nd referendum? What are you worried about?
- David R

We voted for Brexit, not Brino ( Brexit in name only) and that's why so called Brexiteers are angry. The referendum result could not be clearer. What we have now is a disfunctional parliament full of remain voting MPs that are refusing to deliver what people have democratically voted for. When this is all finally sorted out we need a root and branch reform of parliament as it is clearly not fit for purpose. This is a democracy that is no longer democratic.
- David H

More weasel words Sarah. Brexit is Brexit as stated at the Referendum, neither soft or hard. The fact that MPs will not honour their pledge in the manifesto or their duty to the electorate does not justify their actions; it shows a disconnect.
- John

Parliament is full of people who realise the brexit will make us poorer and that no deal will make us a lot poorer. I don't blame them for trying to prevent this. As is plain from the events of the last few days, the hard brexiters have no loyalty to anything except their own ideology. Ask yourself what this very rich club want to gain from brexit. The removal of regulation for environmental, food safety, workers protection. The fact that millions of peoples jobs depend upon the free movement of goods across EU borders means nothing to them.
- Bob

When May steps aside, the next leader elected by the membership will be a Brexiteer. The 48 are well placed to control the future. Sarah you should join the Lib Dems. You'll feel more at home there.
- George, Paignton

So the member for the 18th century will control the future! He will have to find it first
- Bob

The Luddite Dad's Army buffoons were seen off in fine style. May cannot now be challenged for a year. If she has any forethought, intelligence, or nouse ( which I doubt) she should change direction, sweep out the deadwood in her cabinet like Fox and Loathsome, and bring in some younger blood. She could do this now before her deal comes back to the Commons. To reach out and get anybody decent on board she would have to commit to a 2nd referendum. To deny us a 2nd referendum is a denial of democracy and justice. Meanwhile she could loose a confidence vote, as the Members have lost confidence in her ability to govern, her authority has utterly evaporated and the ERG group are fuming.
- Richard

Yes Richard, leaving the silly name calling aside, she could do all you suggest. I suppose this would show some degree of strength I guess. However, judging by the comments on the blogs on this page, this is likely to consign the Tory Party (or possibly Parties as over a third voted against the leader) to the wilderness for many years to come leaving a Corbyn Government. It could be worse, I guess – not sure how! I just can’t understand how a second referendum will change anything – unless everyone suddenly ‘sees the light’, converts and decides they want to Remain. How likely is that? Here’s a novel idea – why can’t we all just get behind the original referendum and get on with it wherever that might lead! Once the uncertainty is removed, we can all get on with making it work and business can get on with doing business!
- Patrick, Brixham

I am not against a second referendum - bearing in mind the number of people who must have been misled by the campaign on the red bus, it seems the right thing to do. However, if we are going to go ahead with Brexit, the big problem seems to be the Irish border. I have heard lots of talk about following the Norway model, but no one has mentioned Switzerland. As far as I know the Swiss border is fairly 'soft'. Would this be a model to follow?
- Jeremy

It doesn't need everyone to see the light, don't forget leave won by quite a small margin. Polls are already suggesting that a referendum run today would give remain the edge. Why else are the leavers so scared of another vote. Cameron only called the referendum to stop the exodus of tory voters to ukip and to stop the party losing power. He never wanted it, and never expected to lose.
- Bob

As I previously said - So, we have a ‘Peoples Vote’ and Remain win by say 52 to 48%. Now we have nearly half of the electorate feeling cut off and ignored. What do they do? They can no longer vote for their current MP who they will see as failing them. So in this vacuum, the electorate turns to the extreme (left or right) to protest – there are already parties here in the UK looking to exploit this. This is the lesson from history. Let's say Leave wins - then how will the be any more accepted than the last time? Not scared of another vote (even though the question may be set to ensure we get the correct answer) - just sure that it won't actually change anything and worried of where it will lead and the impact on democracy.
- Patrick, Brixham

The 48% feel cut off and ignored now. I can see that some people will be tempted by extremists, but most people in this country struggle to get out to vote anyway. Even the referendum turnout was only about 70%, so almost 13,000,000 couldn't be bothered. The % who voted leave was about 37 The main argument for another vote is to set a way forward. May's deal, no deal, some other sort of deal or remain with the deal we have now.
- Bob

Bob you lost. The referendum was a clear choice and the minority were not going to get their choice. You would not have given a damn for Leavers if the public had voted Remain. Now I'm expected to care for your views? Cry me a river. The turnout was anybody eligible who could be bothered to vote. You have no idea of the views of those who did not vote, just as you have no idea of the views of people too young to vote. You won't be getting another vote so get over it and stop your moaning.
- George, Paignton

So, now it is time to do what we voted for and leave the EU. I voted and expected parliament to work together to deliver, after all both main parties stood on a manifesto to leave. It is not my fault you did not work to leave with treaties to enable a smooth transition.. Your fault as a politician, not mine for voting as I have wanted to for all my adult life in the only vote where my vote actually counted.
- Giles, Paignton

George. With due respect, at the last referendum there was widespread deceit and outright lies. The bigger the whopper the more it was believed. The Leave side produced no prospectus. Now we have the prospectus and voters can make an informed judgement. And why deny the people the right to change their minds? May was elected Leader 2 years ago, but the ERG group called an election as they changed their minds. The duped DUP have changed their minds. Why can't the opportunity be offered to the electorate in a referendum? Sarah is absolutely correct. You will thank her in the end for having the courage to stand up for her beliefs.
- Richard

Remain told lies about plans for common European Foreign and Defence policy. All political campaigns have lies. That's part of the deal. You have to judge their credibility and decide. People did. You lost. As for a prospectus. Well they weren't the government. How would you propose they enacted their prospectus. In terms of change. The only person who has changed their mind in these two years is May. Read the Lancaster House Speech and then look at current policy. The ERG and the DUP have been entirely consistent. May has broken clear promises, and it's right that 2/3 of the non-payroll Tory MPs declared no confidence. If she had any pride she'd have gone to the Queen. The people do of course have the right to change their minds, as they changed their minds after 1975. Get a political party to promise a referendum in their manifesto, win a majority, put a vote to the people and win a majority. Good luck with that, it took Leave 41 years. I'm sure British people will be queueing up for Schengen, the Euro and a federal Europe(!). The only thanks Wollaston will get from me is being deselected.
- George, Paignton

One final question on the “Peoples Vote”. Maybe someone can answer this – maybe even our MP? Can someone please, please tell me how it is democratic to have a referendum with the 2 questions as advocated by our MP (if you haven’t read the piece on PoliticsHome that Dr Wollaston wrote and tweeted about yesterday, please do – it is very illuminating) – i.e. “…take her (i.e. Mrs Mays) deal direct to the people with the simple question, is this the Brexit you voted for or would you rather remain?”. The deal has clearly been dismissed as a real option and will be voted down in Parliament (including by our MP) should the vote happen. Why present this option to the People? This is exactly why I don’t trust a second referendum – where is the real Leave option? Read on in the piece mentioned above – we have Conservative MP looking to the Labour Front Bench for support. If I had wanted Labour to be driving this, I would have voted Labour. Oh to have a true Conservative MP to represent true Tory values. I give up with Politics and will just get back to running my business!
- Patrick, Brixham

Patrick, in a democracy you have to put your faith in Joe Public. Joe is actually quite astute and wouldn't be dumb enough to vote Leave again, now knowing the full consequences. Hence the Brexiteers resistance to another vote, and that includes Corbyn. And the youth will show up to vote this time. I would expect a very high turnout, and a substantial majority to stay. (in Quebec turnout for the 2nd referendum in 1995 was 93%)
- Richard

The conservative party needs to unite in the face of total disrespect and aggression from the EU. They are exploiting the disunity caused by remainers and unless the Goverment is prepared to walk away there will not be any change in the backstop that everyone hates and insists on changing. The EU MUST be given an ultimatum asap. It is the current withdrawal deal, minus the backstop, or no deal and a WTO trading relationship until a future trade deal is agreed. Given the weak state of the the EU and the French and German economies it is blatantly obvious they would HAVE to accept the need for change as they would LOSE a guaranteed £39 billion pounds from the UK causing an even greater rise in membership costs. Come on British polititians, even at this late hour it is time to unite in the NATIONAL INTEREST instead of pursuing your own selfish wishes and desires.
- David H

Richard. I agree partly with your points but you kind of missed my main point entirely. Yes – given the options I outlined above and advocated by our MP, of course Remain will win because there is no real alternative. Given a real choice (Leave or Stay), I still believe it will be very close and could go either way and won’t really solve anything – but our politicians are not going to let that happen again are they? By the way, I don't believe Leave voters were "dumb" the first time or for that matter the Remain voters - people on both sides have their own reasons/beliefs for voting the way they did and I respect this entirely.
- Patrick, Brixham

Ok then George, what should we do about leaving the EU May's deal or no deal?
- Bob

I am quite happy to cooperate with the states of Europe who are our neighbours. That they do not have the guts to leave the EU Kleptocracy is a genuine sadness for me when I respect their cultures so much. I doubt that there is much to be agreed with the EU and the Commission, which are thoroughly nasty and undemocratic institutions bent on punishing the people of the UK for having the audacity to vote to leave. I would offer a comprehensive trade deal along the lines of the Canada deal. No payments to the EU. No role for ECJ, which is a foreign court and can never overrule our own courts if we are to be a free nation. No backstop which is an affront for any democratic and free nation. The UK will be asserting control over its border like any other free nation. Leaving the panoply of EU apparatus was implicit in the people's decision to leave the EU. We should negotiate a sensible arrangement with the Irish Republic to deal with our common land border...a relationship not based on the current threats from the ROI and the EU27. If these terms are not acceptable to Juncker, Tusk and Barnier...and given that they are determined to punish the UK Versailles-style "pour encourager les autres", I realise that it is unacceptable...then we leave on WTO terms, the same terms that happily govern 60% and rising of our global trade with the other 93% of the world's people.
- George, Paignton

There are two criticisms of “the only realistic negotiated version of Brexit”. First, it is tendentious & absurd, to say the least, to describe May’s WA as “realistic”, not least because Dr Wollaston herself concedes it will not pass Parliament. Her position is contradictory. It cannot be a “realistic” Brexit when so many, even in a remain-heavy HoC, will not give it time of day. Second, “negotiated”? Really? Theresa May might be the world’s worst negotiator, certainly at the level of Prime Ministership of a leading nation. In 2016 she scurried off to Brussels, rolled over, and offered £39 billion without conditions – thereby breaching one of negotiation’s fundamental rules. She is naïve, starry-eyed, weak, gauche and thoroughly hopeless, someone over-promoted way beyond her level of competence in a fit of madness by the shambolic Tory Party. I wouldn’t hire Mrs May to negotiate the purchase of a s/h car. Disappointing to see so many tired clichés trotted out here in the comments, e.g. assertions that “Brexit will make us poorer” suggest complete ignorance of England’s having existed 1000 years or so, mostly with very great success and becoming one of the wealthiest (for a while THE wealthiest) countries on earth, long before the EEC/EU was dreamed of – and a dismal pessimism about our national qualities, proven time and again. “Luddite Dad's Army buffoons” is all too typical of the crass smears levelled by people apparently unaware of the contradiction in their cleaving to a centralised, heavily bureaucratic, undemocratic, protectionist E with a sclerotic economy – Tim Wallace in the DT Business section Friday: “Growth in the eurozone has almost completely disappeared as businesses reported the weakest expansion in four years…The influential purchasing managers’ index (PMI) survey of businesses slid to 51.3 for the eurozone, 52.2 in Germany and 49.3 in France….growth will barely recover from the disappointing 0.2pc expansion in GDP in the third quarter of the year, and could worsen into 2019…The surveys point to quarterly GDP growth momentum slipping closer to 0.1pc in December alone…that demand growth is stalling, adding to downside risks to the immediate outlook.” And let’s not mention the ECB/Euro, re especially Greece and Italy… I am deeply disappointed with Dr Wollaston - as, I gather, are more than a few people in her constituency.
- Tony, Totnes

Do you really think that all that can be done by the end of March? No deal then and all the chaos that will come with it.
- Bob

Yes we were the richest nation on Earth. But we did it by making the majority of the people work themselves to death in terrible conditions. Hang on a mo, that's what the brexiteers want isn't it.
- Bob

"Do you really think that all that can be done by the end of March? No deal then and all the chaos that will come with it". It certainly won't be done by the end of March next year. It might have been difficult to do even if we'd pursued a proper negotiating strategy, not the kind of doom laden timidity that seems to chime with so much of your sentiments. I doubt the EU is the kind of organisation that lets countries walk away without trying to cripple it. As JRM said after the vote, do we really want to be forced to stay as a member of a club just because they threaten to kneecap you if you leave. And we don't accept that No Deal means chaos. It is convenient for you and so much of the establishment to argue such a thing, since it reinforced your view. But such points were made before the vote in 2016. One Treasury estimate said that 500k jobs would go even if we VOTED to leave. That was shortly before UK unemployment hit a 45 year low. The truth is that people didn't believe these lies then and they don't believe them now. People advocating a second vote just show themselves for bad losers and deserve to be ignored or ridiculed.
- George, Paignton

Yes let's ridicule those looking for a second referendum. A certain Boris Johnson did just that in 2016. A point about UK unemployment being at it's 45 year low. If you have a job on a fixed hours contract that gives you 30 MINUTES work a week then you are counted to be employed. Talk about massaging the data. Now JRM may be able to survive on 2 hours pay per month, but a worker at Toyota in Derby wouldn't. As for chaos, if it will all be fine, why is the government looking to charter planes to fly medication into the country. And for your information, I am not a bad loser, but I do want to see my country continue to prosper which it has quite well since we joined the EU. Remember our name in the 1970's - The sick man of Europe
- Bob

To those that don't read the Guardian there is an excellent piece written by Andrew Rawnsley on the deadly state of British politics https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/16/failed-by-both-major-parties-betrayed-britain-lurches-towards-the-abyss
- Richard

Bob, I can't argue for ever with you on this subject (mainly because the British people have already made a judgement on all the issues we are discussing), so this will be my last reply. 1 Facts. According to the ONS, only 1.4% of people in the UK classed as employed work six or fewer hours a week. Many because they want to work light hours. This figure is lower than the year 2000 (1.8%). There has been no explosion in this form of employment, contrary to arguments regularly made in the media. Your attempt to "massage data" to pretend that the EU is good for job is apparent for all to see. 2 I cannot say why our government is doing anything. They bewilder me. I suspect they are planning for No Deal, and certainly hope they are. Would you advocate they shouldn't bother? So the EU is going to stop selling us drugs? Really? How would that even work? Presumably we can purchase whatever we choose. I think you are working off assumptions that the UK would choose to impose tariffs and checks on EU products at 11pm on 29 March. Won't happen. We'll buy whatever we need. This argument is a fairly transparent attempt to scare people. Such tactics failed in June 2016...why would you think they work now? 3 Your description of the UK in the 1970s. Couldn't agree more. The UK remained an economic basket case until the early 1980, when Margaret Thatcher's supply side reforms bore fruit. Our economic rise has little to do with our trade with Europe. In any case, during our EEC/EC/EU membership, global tariffs have fallen and continue to fall. Why can't you just accept that people voted to Leave the EU, and that they were not stupid or misguided? Given that 52% voted Leave because they felt ignored by the political class, how do you think such an attitude helps resolve this basic and fundamental problem? If the political class treat the British public with such contempt on this issue and thwart the choice made by them, they'll have a lot more to worry about than trade dislocation. This issue is now more important than our relationship with the declining and failing EU. It is about whether the British people have the right to make their own decisions. We'll wait and see with interest. Regards.
- George, Paignton

George – some excellent points there – I wasn’t going to comment further either but I saw this information which I thought might add some balance to the scare stories – it is a long but very informative read – see https://brexitcentral.com/plea-pm-leave-supporting-businessperson-stop-scare-stories-embrace-sovereign-brexit/ Also, @sarahwollaston Tweet 17/12 – “What undermines democracy is to push through a deal which is hated by both the 48% who didn’t want to leave & the loudest campaigners for Leave. Clearly no majority.” Contrast this with the previously mentioned PoliticsHome story by the same “could and should take her deal direct to the people with the simple question, is this the Brexit you voted for or would you rather remain with the deal we already have?” As I said before, how is democracy served by having an option which was defeated in the first referendum and another (as our MP has pointed about above) has already been dismissed by the majority whilst at the same time having no true ‘Leave’ option which was carried by the majority in the first referendum?
- Patrick, Brixham

Another important News story to add some balance to the argument - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-to-remain-in-common-transit-convention-after-brexit - can't think why the BBC etc. haven't picked up on this?
- Patrick, Brixham

We’ve reached the point where only four diagnoses are now left. The prime minister is in a delusional, psychotic state and is in urgent need of help. Or the prime minister is focused purely on her own short-term survival: even she can’t be so far gone as to believe she has a long-term future. Or the prime minister is a sleeper agent for a hostile government committed to the destruction of the UK. Or the prime minister is totally incompetent. John Gace 18h Dec 2018 Guardian
- Richard

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12 DEC 2018

Today's Vote 3.30pm

I will be backing Theresa May in this evening's confidence vote. I hope that the ERG will finally be shown for what they are, a small and unrepresentative faction pushing for a version of Brexit that has no chance of passing the Conservative Party let alone the House of Commons. It was irresponsible and self-indulgent for a few individuals to be pushing their own leadership ambitions at such a time of national crisis and particularly to have done so whilst our Prime Minister was meeting EU leaders abroad.

No one should doubt Theresa May's personal integrity and sense of duty and the contrast with those scheming to take her place could not be in sharper relief. Whilst I continue to hope that the PM will move to take her deal direct to the people, I have great personal respect for her determined efforts to try to find a compromise through the Withdrawal Agreement and Future Framework.

I hope we will now be spared the ERG posturing for a while as, following an unsuccessful leadership challenge, there cannot be another for 12 months.

15 comments

Although I personally do not think that we should have another vote. Thank you for your clear statement. I hope that you are one of many and that the Prime minister is recognised for her integrity as stated and has a clear majority supporting her this evening
- Hazel Howe

What a joke! Sarah has undermined Theresa May at every opportunity during the withdrawal negotitations and no wishes to support her. Your stance is somewhat hypocritical Sarah and is only designed to thwart the efforts of those genuinely honouring the referendum result. Your support is shallow to say the least.
- David H

So in the midst of the most important negotiations in our lifetime the ERG and followers have lobbed a grenade into the tory party. Now there's loyalty to the country for you. I don't like the deal we have waited two years for, but all the ERG can offer is chaos. No wonder John Major called his anti EU mob B*****ds!
- Bob

If you are going to support our PM, then really support her. Enough of this ‘Peoples Vote’. I do have doubts about some aspects of the deal but if you support her, then do it fully. Please get on with honouring the manifesto on the basis of which you were elected. I would also say that you may be surprised at the size of the support in the country for this “small and unrepresentative faction” as you put it judging by the comments on these recent blogs and how this support will grow if Brexit is thwarted.
- Patrick, Brixham

We are in a pickle, no doubt about it. Ms May's government had to be dragged though the Supreme Court for Parliament to trigger Article 50. May resisted a meaningful vote in Parliament, and it only just squeaked through (thanks to Sarah and others). She’s trying to deny the public a referendum on the facts, and now she's denied Parliament a vote on her doggy deal. But she'll all we have. The ERG group are a bunch of Dad's Army fanatics. So Sarah is correct. it's a complete shambles, we are laughing stock, and the last thing we need now is a Tory Leadership election. But May needs to compromise and offer the people a vote on her deal. She's a lame duck leader now.
- Richard

Sarah, I hope you continue to campaign for a people’s Vote. It is the only democratic way forward with the government not functioning and destroying itself with its political infighting. Never before has democracy been so important. The first referendum should never have been taken as a final say, it should have been purely advisory. Also, it was so close that the result should not have been followed on such an important issue which will affect us permanently for the rest of the future. Those nasty self interested hard ERG Brexiteers have no interest in democracy or the interests of the people, many of whom already struggle to make ends meet, and I hope that they are voted down tonight . I’m not a fan of May, but the alternative is worse! Please know that you have lots of support. Helen (member of Devon for Europe)
- Helen Petit

These are not my original ideas but the 40 reasons below come from the Conservative website. Can you Sarah counter the reasons why we should honour the people’s vote already cast. I’m certain your constituents who you should represent, will not support your change of views so I would ask you again to change back to your original position of wanting to leave. Listen to your constituents....please. Free movement will come to an end, once and for all, with the introduction of a new skills-based immigration system. We will take back full control of our money which we will be able to spend on our priorities such as the NHS. We will leave EU regional funding programmes – with the UK deciding how we spend this money in the future. The jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK will end. In the future we will make our own laws in our own Parliaments and Assemblies in Westminster, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. We will leave the Common Agricultural Policy. We will leave the Common Fisheries Policy and become an independent coastal state again, with control over our waters. We will be able to strike trade deals with other countries around the world. Deals can be negotiated and ratified during the implementation period and put in place straight afterwards. We will be an independent voice for free trade on the global stage, speaking for ourselves at the World Trade Organisation, for the first time in decades. We will be freed from the EU’s political commitment to ever closer union. We will be out of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, recognising the UK’s long track record in protecting human rights. A fair settlement of our financial obligations, which will be less than half what was originally predicted. Both the one million UK citizens living in the EU and the three million EU citizens living in the UK will have their rights legally guaranteed so they can carry on living their lives as before. We will have a free trade area with the EU, with no tariffs, fees, charges or quantative restrictions across all sectors, helping to protect UK jobs. We will be the only major economy with such a relationship with the EU. We’ve agreed with the EU that we will be as ambitious as possible in easing the movement of goods between the UK and the EU as part of our free trade area. We will have an implementation period after we leave the EU during which trade will continue much as it does now. This will allow Government, businesses and citizens time to prepare for our new relationship. The deal will see a greater reduction in barriers to trade in services than in any previous trade deal. There will be an agreement that means UK citizens can practice their profession in the EU. A comprehensive deal that secures access to the EU market for our financial services sector meaning the EU cannot withdraw it on a whim. This will provide stability and certainty for the industry. A best in class agreement on digital, helping to facilitate e-commerce and reduce unjustified barriers to trade by electronic means. We have agreed that there will be arrangements that will let data continue to flow freely, vital across our economy and for our shared security. Trade arrangements for gas and electricity will help to ease pressure on prices and keep supply secure. Strong rules will be in place to keep trade fair, so neither the UK nor EU can unfairly subsidise their industries against the other. We will have a comprehensive Air Transport Agreement and comparable access for freight operators, buses and coaches. We have agreed that there will be arrangements so we can take part in EU programmes like Horizon and Erasmus. There will be a co-operation agreement with Euratom, covering all the key areas where we want to collaborate. Visa-free travel to the EU for holidays and business trips will continue. Our new security partnership will mean sharing of data like DNA, passenger records and fingerprints to fight crime and terrorism, going beyond any previous agreement the EU has made with a third country. Our new security partnership will enable the efficient and swift surrender of suspected and wanted criminals. Close co-operation for our police forces and other law enforcement bodies. We will continue to work together on sanctions against those who violate international rules. We will work together on cyber-security threats and support international efforts to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Disputes between the UK and the EU on the agreement will be settled by an independent arbitrator, ensuring a fair outcome. We will meet our commitment to ensure that there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. We will keep the Common Travel Area between the United Kingdom and Ireland, ensuring everyday life continues as now. We will keep the Single Electricity Market between Northern Ireland and Ireland, which will help maintain a stable energy supply and keep prices down in Northern Ireland. Both sides will be legally committed, by the Withdrawal Agreement, to use “best endeavours” to get the future relationship in place by the end of the implementation period, helping to ensure the backstop is never used. An agreement to consider alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, including all facilitative arrangements and technologies, and to begin preparatory work on this before we leave the EU, reflecting shared determination to replace the backstop. In the unlikely event we do have to use the backstop, a UK-wide customs area will ensure there is no customs border in the Irish Sea. Gibraltar’s British sovereignty will be protected. The deal delivers on the referendum result. It takes back control of our money, borders and laws whilst protecting jobs, security and the integrity of the United Kingdom.
- Mike Freeman

I agree with David H. Sarah Wollaston, in her capacity as MP for Totnes, has been disloyal to the party and its leadership on too many occasions for anyone to think that she is a true Tory. I suggest that she is supporting the PM on this occasion because any potential replacement would be a real Brexiteer.
- Lewis Mosse

People will remember Sarah Wollaston as just another sycophantic anti-democrat intent on keeping someone in office who has no concept of democracy, sovereignty or any of the other things people voted for in the referendum. The people had their vote already, respect it.
- Peter Hearn

117 votes. No Backstop here! The truth is that May is running out of road and the next leader will be Boris Johnson. Elected by the members. Sarah can stop pretending to be a Tory then.
- George, Paignton

2 faced or delusional , which is it Sarah??
- Peter Mulloy

ERG posturing? are you going to stop your posturing for a peoples vote that we've already had?? and get behind the parties commitments, maybe you just can't let your personal views be put before, Democracy , your constituents, and your Party. You are supposed to stand by the peoples (including constituents) wishes, Leave the job please if you can't do it.
- peter paignton

Write to the Totnes Conservative Assoc. asking for a new candidate at the next election. Sarah W has undermined democracy and the party on whose back she was elected. She clearly has more sense of self than of duty to the people who elected her.
- John

Boris as PM Saints and Angels of mercy protect us
- Bob

Putting aside the internal power struggle within (all) parties. Our MPs, from all sides clearly recognise that parliament is pre-eminent and that MPs are voted in by constituents. They clearly feel that the referendum does nor carry the weight of a normal election process. So be it. Consider then the outcome of the referendum based on constituencies. 63% Leave 37% remain. Had this been a NORMAL election, Leave would have a majority of 174 seats. I have excluded Wallasey which was 50/50. Source https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/parliament-and-elections/elections-elections/brexit-votes-by-constituency/ It seems to me that our democracy is lying in taters thanks to Westminster self interest and pity squabbles. Keep in mind this whole debacle is a Conservative debacle, created by 30 years of infighting, a moment of weakness (and ignorance) by David Cameron and a complete late of focus on what is important for the country from all sides of the house.
- Geoff

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10 DEC 2018

Brexit Update 12.30pm

The Parliamentary vote on Tuesday has now been delayed and we are awaiting a Statement from the Prime Minister in the Commons at 3.30 today to set out what happens next. I hope that there will be an acknowledgement of the gridlock in Parliament and a pledge to return the decision on the final deal to the British people, with an option to remain with the deal we already have.

The European Court of Justice has this morning ruled that the UK can unilaterally withdraw Article 50 if that follows a democratic process and that if it did so we would remain on current terms. This matters because there has been some false speculation that Britain might face a penalty for remaining and this puts beyond doubt that this would not be the case.

15 comments

The only penalty Britain would face for remaining in the EU would be remaining in the EU. Can we have the decision on who our MP will be returned to the people of Totnes? "A people's vote"? It's just that I voted a party committed to honouring the referendum result and removing us from the EU, the Single Market and the Customs Union. Now I find the constituency lumbered with Sarah Wollaston, elected under false pretences and refusing to do as she promised. Surely this is the vote that is really required?
- George, Paignton

The Referendum was quite clear - a vote to Leave the EU. It doesn't matter whether you want to remain or leave - the result was given by the majority of the people in the UK. Whether we were misled by either side doesn't matter. If Democracy is to be followed then we leave. There was no agreement to give people another vote, a voice or anything else. It is the responsibility of Government to Leave. We are a Democratic country. If ways around the outcome of that Vote are found and actioned, then we are no longer a Democratic country. Agree with George, if we voted Conservatives into power and then some of us changed our minds, would anything be done? If you don't honour this Vote, you let down everyone who voted, whether they changed their minds subsequently or not. This is about the importance of democracy.
- jane

Dr Wollaston now wants a “people’s vote” what is the difference between this and a referendum. Apparently those who voted “leave” in the first referendum didn’t understand what they were voting for, how would they know the second time? I agree with George, Paignton, i am 72 years old, I have always voted Conservative, but for sure Dr.Wollaston will not got my vote in any future election, as she is rolling out the carpet for a Corbyn government.
- Cindy

Dr Wollaston spoke passionately in Parliament about going back to the people to vote on a Brexit now known more about. I would ask Dr Wollaston whether she is prepared to support the Prime Minster and support the leaving Europe after conducting a constituency review? My understanding is all party Manifestos were to honour Brexit. To go to a people’s vote and it’s to stay, what about the disenfranchised voters who still remain convinced that being a “51st state of Europe”. Do we then seek a third vote when staying in is examined in detail and it’s disadvantages highlighted. If she is not prepared to honour her constituents views to leave, perhaps she should make way for someone who represents the views of her voters.
- Mike Freeman

Just wondering who voted in 2016 , was it guinea pigs? Oh wait a minute , it was people. We've already had the people's vote and the result was to leave failing, corrupt EU. How has Sarah Wollaston got the audacity to be an MP when she clearly does not believe in or support democracy?
- Fred Paignton

Personally I am disgusted by Dr Wollaston's conduct throughout the Brexit issue. A last minute change of mind on something as important as leaving the EU, coupled with the usual publicity that she seems to crave - really! She seemed then to forget she was elected to represent a fishing constituency! Since then her and her like have sought to undermine the PM and the democratic vote to leave the EU. That made the task of negotiating a fair exit for the UK an almost impossible task, given the weakness of the undermined negotiators. As a result we have now a weak compromise. Dr Wollaston seems to want to tie the UK into a deal that sees the UK taxpayer having to pay for the failings in countries such as the currently riotous France, the failing economies of Greece and Italy, let alone the many other countries in the group of 27. I doubt most UK citizens could correctly name all those countries if asked! I fully support the views of Fred and George above. When we next face an election I, as a normal Tory voter together I suspect with all my extended family will not be voting for her! She is a disgrace! Good on health issues, but very poor on much else!
- David Pakes - South Brent

The referendum was a very close vote. Only 70% of those eligible to vote bothered to turn out so by no stretch of the imagination can it be said to be a majority of the country. Brexit will make us poorer. The young people of this country will have to live with the choice we make now for the next 50 years so we neen to be very careful what we do next. Anyone who has taken the trouble to watch the debate (sadly curtailed) on the deal will have seen the division amongst MPs, and the wide range of opinopns on what to do next. We can stop brexit, take stock and think what to do next and take an informed decision on what to do next. This is too important to make a hasty panicked decision.
- Bob

Who ever says we must be bound indefinitely by the result of a general election, regardless of our experience of what happens afterwards? We learn more after each result and hey-ho, some want to change their minds next time! And what's all this about 'the majority of the people in the UK'? If by 'the people in the UK' we mean those entitled to express a view through the ballot box, only 37.4% of those people in the UK actually voted in favour of over-turning, potentially irrevocably, a 45-year-established constitutional dispensation. Whatever happened to the usual requirement for constitutional changes to be based on a two-thirds majority? The much-hyped 52% falls a tad short of that. We should now be planning back from Thursday 23rd May 2019, the date of the next Euro-elections. The plan goes like this, with the questions to be put in that UK vote on Thursday 23rd May, in sequence: 1 - A) do you wish the UK to continue its membership of the EU, or B) do you wish the UK to cease its membership of the EU? ['X' marks the spot for your choice]. 2 - in the event that 1 A) commands majority support, please now vote for your preferred candidate to be elected to the European Parliament for 2019-24, so that in continuing its membership of the EU the UK will maintain its ability to influence the decisions of the European Parliament and of other European institutions with a voice, a vote, and if necessary a veto. Remember that the UK is one of 28 EU countries ie 3.6%, with 10% of the seats in the European Parliament [is that not already a good deal?] 3 - in the event that 1 B) commands majority support, please indicate if you wish the UK to cease its membership of the EU A) with the deal with the EU which has been negotiated, or B) without any deal with the EU. ['X' marks the spot for your choice]. And by the way, postpone the other UK elections due on Thursday 2nd May 2019 and hold them on the 23rd too, as we've already done several times before. If the Leavers are so confident that they're still right, why are they frit?
- Rog Laker

Of course we're not bound indefinitly by an election result. In a democracy you implement the result and are able to revisit at a later time; tough if you're on the losing side but don't whinge. The referendum was won by 3.8%, many elected MPs were elected by smaller margins but you don't hear them demanding a new election. The Remainers seem to have rather defeatist personalities, maybe they were spoiled as children, success comes from believing in something and working towards it.
- John

Hope your pleased with yourself Sarah, now a vote of no confidence in Teresa May, a woman who has tried to carry out the peoples democratic vote. Teresa and the Conservative party were badly let down by you, Anna Soubry, and 10 other vipers, from the onset. Your constituents voted to leave 53% so you didn't represent them, you didn't represent the Conservative Party who I voted for to have the referendum and carry out the result of that referendum, so I can only conclude you believe yourself above, the democratic view of the Public, your Party, and your constituents. Surely you should stand as an Independent ?? You have contributed to irreparable damage both financially and democratically to this great country. Teresa May is an honest person who stands by Conservative values and standards, unlike yourself. I'm sure Jeremy Corbyn is eternally grateful to you and your little gang. SHAMEFUL.
- Peter Mulloy

Theresa May has to go, no question. Since the Chequers weekend where she took direct control over negotiations with the EU the whole process has been shambolic. All she has managed to achieve in two years is a draft withdrawal agreement that nobody likes and which gives the EU everything it wants, in return for making the UK an EU colony with no say over regulations affecting it's future. Even at this late hour I would prefer to see David Davis or Dominique Raab (preferably the former) take over to sort this terrible mess out. As I have said many times in earlier contributions to these pages Theresa May is taking our country in the wrong direction and unless she is removed she will lead the conservative party to a serious collapse at the next general election.
- David H

Rog Laker. An interesting if very complex referendum question. And to answer your question – am I ‘frit’ – the answer is yes, but not for the reasons you think. Look back at history to see why – the party of the most dangerous European leader of the 20th century was actually elected! When there is widespread dissatisfaction and the governing elite decide to ignore the wishes of a significant number of its electorate, therein lies trouble. So, we have a ‘Peoples Vote’ and Remain win by say 52 to 48%. Now we have nearly half of the electorate feeling cut off and ignored. What do they do? They can no longer vote for their current MP if they feel that they have been ignored. So in this vacuum, the electorate turns to the extreme (left or right) to protest – there are already parties here in the UK looking to exploit this. Look over the channel – what do you think is fuelling the rise of extremism? Could it be a distant centralised elite who ignore the wishes of the electorate? Please, Dr Wollaston, get behind your party to deliver what you had promised, deliver Brexit and let us avoid the disaster of extremism and learn our lessons from history!
- Patrick, Brixham

When was the authority to decide national policy devolved to just 600 Parliamentary individuals? I thought, maybe naively that our MPs were elected to represent the wishes of those who elected them! In this constituency we voted to leave the EU and after all these months have an opportunity to leave under a deal, which although imperfect, represents months of talks, negotiations and compromises or leave with no deal and forge our own future. I, for one, favour the latter - a clean break -- we can be self-determining and not held hostage to EU manipulators. The EU need us as much as we need them as a market for goods and services! Dr. Wollaston was elected to serve the people who make up the democracy we treasure and should not simply vote according to her own predilections. Theresa May has maintained a dignified and statesmanlike position throughout this process and, whether you agree with the deal on the table or not, she deserves respect and support. In all the rhetoric flying about from all sides at the moment the two options above mentioned seem to be all that is possible - the deal negotiated or no deal at all.
- Gerry - Kingsbridge

Just an observation - in the overall referendum vote in the South Hams 29308 voted to remain and 26142 voted to leave on an 80.3% turnout which is about 53% in favour of remaining, the opposite to the overall national result. While South Hams is more than just the Totnes constituency it seems unlikely to me that the higher level of voting to remain was confined to areas of the South Hams outside Totnes. On that basis, isn't it possible that our MP is actually following the wishes of the majority of her constituents?!
- Francis South Brent

The referendum was 2.5 years ago, and the facts now are totally different from the lies and deceit presented by the Brexit side, and of course a major benefactor is under criminal investigation. Democracy demands that the Parliament return the deal to the people for approval, as a union would seek ratification from the workers after negotiating a deal with the employers. So Sarah is quite correct in the brave stance she is taking.
- Richard

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10 DEC 2018

Brexit Update 11.30am

Thank you to everyone who has written to me about Brexit and the Parliamentary votes due to take place on Tuesday. It used to be said that 'a week is a long time in politics', but the situation appears to be evolving far more rapidly than that.

As things stand, it looks certain that the Approval Motion for the Withdrawal Agreement and Future Framework will fail to pass the Commons. This defeat would then come on the heels of three avoidable defeats last week where the government was found in contempt of Parliament for refusing to abide by its own promise to publish its legal advice, and on the issue of Parliament's demand to be able to amend future motions on Brexit.

In 'normal' times, the official opposition would then move to a vote of no confidence in order to try to trigger a general election. That Labour now say that they will delay, this reflects their ongoing reluctance to come off the fence on the issue of a People's Vote, as they have long promised their members that they would move to back such a vote if their bid to trigger an election failed.

The simple reality of the situation we face is that both the main political parties are divided on Brexit. The same is true of our country, this constituency, communities and even within families.

Parliament has reached gridlock, with no majority in support of any of the options, not for the Prime Minister's compromise, not for the softest 'Norway' style Brexit, with or without a customs union, not for a Canada style free trade agreement and least of all, because of the scale of the consequences, for No Deal without any transition.

Once the approval motion falls, it is likely that the PM will try to seek further concessions from the EU but their position has remained united and that looks unlikely. Coming back to the Commons with cosmetic warm words will not yield a different result.

The fact is that this negotiation was always going to be far tougher than was claimed during the referendum campaign in 2016. Far from being 'the easiest deal in human history', breaking away from more than four decades of close ties will leave Britain poorer and more isolated. Brexit is about far more than free trade deals or being in the fourth division trading on WTO rules.

The uncomfortable Brexit reality is set out in the WA and FF, full of trade-offs, compromises and future uncertainties that please no one. If agreed this wouldn't end the wrangling, the real negotiations about our future relationship would just be beginning as set out in the 26 page wish list of the Future Framework, but with no leverage on the part of the UK.

I cannot support it for that reason, but also because I do not think it has the valid consent of the British people. At the time of the original referendum, Brexit was sold on a false prospectus of unrealistic promises and at a time when no one could say which of the many versions would be the final outcome. We now know what Brexit looks like and people are in a position to weigh up the risks and benefits of the negotiated deal as opposed to unrealistic promises that cannot be delivered. Rather than plunge us into weeks of constitutional crisis or risk crashing out with no deal or transition, I hope the PM will take her deal to the people with a simple question about whether they wish to proceed on these terms or stick with the deal we already have. I will be supporting a People's Vote.

6 comments

To paraphrase your own parties mantra, which you stood on at the last ill-advised election.. No Government is better than a Bad Government..
- Giles, Paignton

Sarah, much is made of you following your conscience on the matter of our relationship with the EU. Your contract with those that voted for you and 'your' party was based on what you had said and the Conservative manifesto. You have renaged on both, undermining our negotiating position........ If you do indeed have a conscience you should resign forthwith and stand as an Independent, you'll no longer get our vote by weasel words and smoke and mirrors.
- John

Sarah, You talk of the people’s vote, what about your constituents who put you into parliament ? We have already voted. Are you saying we are uninformed? A very patronising view. If you have changed your views and want to vote to stay in, to a Europe who are making sure it’s as difficult to leave as possible as a ‘lesson’ to other nations disgruntled, then put your seat to the members of your own constituency. That’s as much democracy as the people’s vote you are championing. If we fail to leave now you are promoting a nation to be in an organisation that will keep kicking us and we will have zero teeth. Your view is also a real kick in the teeth for Brixham and it’s fishermen who brave dangerous work place. Be careful what you wish for and be democratic, poll your constituents first before you promote the ‘people’s vote’. But you won’t do that will you. The only thing I will agree with is the support of the prime minister. The Conservative party...no others! mess. Cameron wanted power and sold out to keep his personal ambitions. Then runs away. Then the prime minister called an election, again to put down her own party ‘rebels’ not the opposition and that failed. Since then though she has sought to deliver to peoples vote to leave, unlike you who has chan ged your mind. Support the prime minster and her deal. Your as much to blame for putting the prime minister under the pressure she is under.
- Mike Freeman

I am pleased that you are taking a principalled stance in holding out for a People’s vote. Now that the government is falling apart, not able to find any way forward , it time for us, the people, to have the final say on our future. That would be democracy. We now know the facts and the implications of Brexit, economically, socially and politically, this is what we need to vote on, not the lies and misinformation we were fed the first time around.
- Helen Petit

Whole heartedly agree with John "if indeed you have any conscience, you should resign and stand as an Independent". Your dithering, and lack of support for the outcome of Brexit will not get my vote.
- Charles

strange when the campaign started you were in the Brexit camp then when you had all their plans and tactics you jumped ship do you have no morals no self pride just another leech why dont you resign and stand as an independent
- Stephen Andrews

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28 NOV 2018

It is time for a Peoples Vote. Without informed consent to the final version of Brexit there is no valid consent

The message from clinicians and scientists is clear; Brexit is bad for our health. It will be harmful for people who rely on the NHS, research, social care and public health as well as for the workforce on which these depend. Having listened to the evidence presented to the Health and Social Care Committee in Parliament over the past couple of years, I cannot remain silent about the impact this will have on the communities I was elected to represent, especially in the event of a chaotic exit with no deal and no transition. Hard Brexit in particular would knowingly, and avoidably, inflict reckless damage to the close partnerships, built up over decades, in place at every stage from research and development to medicines and devices arriving on the community pharmacy or hospital shelf.

There is no version of Brexit which will benefit the NHS, social care, public health or our life sciences sector, only varying degrees of harm. This, together with the wider economic fallout from Brexit, will have the hardest impact on the most disadvantaged in society. We would not be insulated from the economic damage here in Devon.

Brexit reality is vastly different to the fantasy Brexit miss-sold to the public during the referendum campaign. The promise on the side of the bus of an extra £350m per week has crashed into the inconvenient truth that there is no Brexit bonanza for the NHS, only a Brexit penalty. A new report, Brexit and the Health and Social Care Workforce in the UK - by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) - also highlights the vital role of EEA nationals across social care as well as the NHS, and the scale of the threat to recruitment and retention as a result of Brexit.

It is likely that there will be provision for doctors and nurses coming to the UK after Brexit, albeit at extra cost and bureaucracy, if the government follows the guidance of the Migration Advisory Committee. But the effect on the social care workforce and those who rely on them for care will be particularly serious because of the salary threshold of £30,000. We already have a serious shortfall of healthcare assistants in social care in our area. We cannot afford to lose or further demoralise those who have given so much to our health and care services.

Brexit is major constitutional, economic and social surgery and we are all being wheeled into the operating theatre on the basis of a vague consent form signed over two years ago when no one knew which of the many versions of Brexit would be taken forward. It is time to insist that our politicians apply the principle of informed consent. The Withdrawal Agreement has been published alongside a draft Future Framework for our relationship with the EU after Brexit. Only now can we properly weigh up the risks and benefits of the proposed surgery rather than the fantasy Brexit touted in the referendum. Parliament is in gridlock and there is no majority for any of the options. It is wholly disingenuous for Mr Corbyn or the right wing of the Tory Party to pretend that they could negotiate a better deal with less than 130 days until we could end up crashing out with no deal and no transition. Neither will an irresponsible leadership challenge help in such a moment of national crisis.

The Government needs to recognise the stalemate and suspend Article 50 to allow the public their say on the only realistic deal that could be negotiated. That People's Vote should include the option to remain in the EU.

People may come to the same conclusion to leave the European Union. To proceed without informed consent, however, would not only be grossly unethical, it would also place the blame for the unintended consequences squarely at the feet of all those politicians from across both main Parties who allowed it to happen.

Alongside a group of current and former clinicians in Parliament, I plan to bring forward an 'informed consent' amendment to the 'meaningful vote' approval motion on the final deal that would make the deal conditional on a People's Vote. It is not acceptable for MPs to sit on the sidelines claiming that the people have already delivered their verdict. Without informed consent there is no valid consent.

37 comments

Oh dear! Don’t know what to say! Buzz words “informed consent”, “Peoples Vote” etc. etc. All code for “We don’t like what you said so we are going to do everything we can to make you to change your mind”. I believe anyone who wanted to be was well informed – Mr Cameron and Mr Osbourne made clear what voting Leave meant. Mr Carney made clear the likely outcome on the economy. Yet the majority still voted to leave. If our MPs stopped to reflect and understand why people voted to leave instead of blaming the other side for the ‘exaggerations’ made by both sides (and continuing to be made), perhaps we would have made some progress. We trusted our representatives to get on with it – the Conservative manifesto was clear (as was the opposition manifesto) and was the contract between us, the electorate, and our representatives. The argument should be over – we decided to leave. If we wanted to remain, the Liberal Democrat manifesto was also clear. We voted to leave, we voted for the two biggest parties whose manifestos promised that we would leave. Now we want a third “Peoples Vote” because we didn’t give the right answer in the first two. What has democracy come to? If our elected representatives fail to represent us and honour their contract, why do we vote? It’s a crying shame what we have come to! Yes there will be bumps in the road and challenges. I left the safety of secure employment to set up on my own so know that feeling. We are resourceful and with the right leadership will succeed. If we had got on with it from the start, rather than going over old arguments, we would have been most of the way to addressing the challenges we will face.
- Patrick, Brixham

There is only one trade deal that would be acceptable to me and I suspect over 17 million people that voted for Brexit, in the face of Project Fear and that is the Canada plus, plus that we set out to negotiate in the first place. While this and all other versions of Brexit comes with a short term economic impact in the medium and longer term this will be more than compensated for when new trade deals with the Asia Pacific, US and other countries are in place. With respect we do NOT need another referendum when the first one is NOT being delivered by MP's, many of whom are in the remain camp and are STILL refusing to accept the original referendum result. Theresa May's shambolic deal needs to be rejected for the betrayal that it is and the text amended to retain good things that have been agreed covering citizens rights, defence and security and a Canada plus, plus agreement made. This delivers the Brexit I and millions of others voted for and gives true soveriegnty back to our Parliament, where it belongs.
- David H

When does Totnes get to give its informed consent for Sarah Wollaston to continue be our MP?
- George, Paignton

Here we go again, more project fear from Remoaner in chief, who does not believe in democracy and will not accept the will of the majority of British people All the usual buzzwords and phrases being rolled out. We`ve already had the people's vote and we voted to leave the EU governed by unelected bureaucrats. I notice SW uses the term `hard` brexit when the term should be `clean` Brexit. I`m fed up of being told I did not know what I was voting for. We had months and months of debate prior to the vote and the options were very clear. This current bunch of 650 MP`s (apart from about 40) are a complete and utter disgrace who I would not trust to run a bath , never mind the country. MP`s cannot have much faith in their own abilities if they are now afraid to govern a sovereign , successful, free trading nation with wonderful opportunities ahead. To add to my woes I have recently moved down to the area and was convinced and hopeful that Kevin Foster was my MP to represent only to find out it`s the dreadful Sarah Wollaston.
- Fred Paignton

Sarah, your constituents have voted overwhelmingly voted to leave the United States of Europe. Are you going to represent us or continue to fly in the face of democracy ?
- Debbie, Totnes

It appears that MPs are overwhelming opposed to Mrs May’s fake Brexit. Are you seriously proposing that if the House votes against, the decision could then be overturned by a people’s vote? If the only deal on offer is unacceptable, the choice is binary: in or out, and We the People have already decided. Please do your duty, and fulfill your manifesto pledge.
- John

I am delighted with your stand. The Leave Campaign sold a lie to the British people. Now that we know what we would get from Brexit, the people deserve a chance to think again. Well done Doctor!
- Peter

Remember that your vision or strategy should be to prevent a Corbyn Government. That is a far more serious threat to the well being of the UK than leaving The EU. Corbyn and McDonnell cannot be allowed anywhere near the Government as both are anti EU and would bankrupt the Country. They see the EU as being a neo liberal construct formed by an elite. Remember that. History will not view you in a positive light if the he destorys the econony. We cannot go back. We had the vote and the people spoke. If we stay in the EU we will lose our rebate and be dragged into ever closer Union. And an Euro Army beckons. I was a remainer but not now. I have to follow the democratic vote from 2016. So should you.
- Andy Totnes

Your whole stance appears to be based solely on the possible effects of Brexit on the workings of the NHS which is unsurprising as a GP. Your constituency contains Brixham who's whole livelyhood depends on fishing and the restrictions applied to them of the CFP. Would this not be a more pertinent sector to concern yourself with?
- Mark Dartmouth

The Referendum result was to leave, the Government to work for a best deal. Implementation was in the hands of Remainers who have engineered a bad deal in the hope to overturn the result. Sore losers. Time for a new leader to renegotiate with the EU, yes, of course they will, they have to. All undemocratic MPs like Sarah Wollaston, who voted with the intention of ignoring the result if they lost, should resign or await deselection.
- John

All we hear from Remain MPs is one deception heaped upon another. We were told this morning from the Culture secretary that we have three choices in fron of us. Accept the dreadful withdrawal agreement negotiated by Theresa May, leave the EU without a deal or have a second referendum. This is a deception and a barefaced LIE! The choices are clear if the PM does not see the futility of her position. We must vote down her deal and either leave with no deal, which gives us back a free and democratic country, or we have further discussion with the EU about a Canada plus style deal which those producing dodgy economic forecasts are deliberately avoiding. I don't buy their public statements that there will be no further discussion as they need a sensible trade deal just as much as we do. No amount of scaremongering will make me change my position. Either MPs respect the referendum result and support the decision to leave or the Conservative Party is finished, it is that simple. Furthermore Theresa May keeps saying she has secured a deal with the EU when anyone with half a brain can see she has nothing of the sort. Discussion of a deal only starts once we have left the EU and as the latest Cabinet Minister to resign has said if the withdrawal agreement is approved this country will be HAMMERED by the EU. The deception must end and the withdrawal agreement must be rejected. Only no deal or a Canada plus deal delivers on the referendum result.
- David H

as Liam Fox says, half the time the people and their MPs do not understand that we need a Withdrawal Agreement before ANY KIND of trade deal can be negotiated - whatever that may be. Quote: “Whatever deal we want to have in future still requires a Withdrawal Agreement. This is something people don’t seem to be grasping. Whether it’s the deal that the prime minister has set out for leaving the EU, or the Norway style, or the Canada FTA; they still require the Withdrawal Agreement.” So, we still require the Withdrawal Agreement before we get to the Canada FTA - our future TRADE DEAL as roughly outlined in the 26-page Political Statement tagged onto the Withdrawal Agreement. This is STILL to be finalised in the 2 - 4 years of the transition period (hopefully 2 years at most). All of this is much too much for Labour, SNP or the DUP members to understand it seems. Only the Labour Brexiteers have an inkling what Brexit actually means, but even Kate Hooey looks to be stumbling. She should have consulted Dr Fox... All this CR*P about a "peoples' Vote or a new EU-Referendum" will merely DELAY our Trade Deal negotiations and that could be crucial to a good Brexit. I'm not sure that even RED-Labour realises that. Their aim of course, is to take over from the Conservative Government in a G.E but little do they anticipate a groundswell of support for the PM Theresa May, a lot coming from Labour Leave voters and Jeremy Corbyn, before he was influenced by Seumus Milne his new Commie best friend and/or Marxist hanger-on McDonnell, to vote against the WA.
- Janet TT

We were sold lies in the first referendum . This is now so obvious that even ardent Brexiteers would be pretty blind or just plain stubborn not to accept they were lies . T May tried to get a better majority , and lost it it even then , ie the people actually did not support her Brexit . The government has only been functioning because of the effective ‘bribe’ in giving £ 1 Billion extra spending in Northern Ireland in return for 10 DUP votes to keep her goverment afloat . That actually means she had no Mandate . ( leave the fact that she spent my hard earned taxes propping up her government via the DUP deal ) . Now we can all see that the Deal is bad - it was always going to . You cant leave a club without losing benefits of being a Member , despite leading Politicians promising us that we could . TMs deal probably is the best we can get , but I absolutely agree its not good enough . I employ 50 staff . We are one of the few manufacturing companies in the UK and fewer still that export . I am told that the WTO tariiffs I will face will be outweighed by the amazing deals we will get in countries that are not as close geographically and that we deal little with at the moment . I frankly do not believe that . I am not alone , the government own figures tell us that these deals may only add 0.2% to GDP . So we now know so much more about the facts that the only reasonable and in fact honest and Democratic choice is a Second ( Thruthful ) Referendum . We were lied to. The first Referendum was therefore not Democratic. If politicians lie , the people in effect become puppets of those lies , it was not Democratoc at all. Repeated reference to that as ‘ the People have decided” is not only ignorant it is perpetuating dishonesty in Politics - and its Teresa May who is still beating that dishonest drum. The “leader” is perpetuating a lie, on behalf of the likes of Boris Johnson and Rees Mog. I was a true Conservative but its really difficult (almost impossible) to have any faith in that dogma . However I do believe that our Sarah Wollaston is an extraordinary MP to push for a correction in the Tory dogma and begin to restore our faith in Tory politics. A Truthful Second Referendum , but to get that universally accepted by Brexiters we have to out the liars - and that is Taking the precious time that we dont have much of .
- G David

I support your principled stand Dr Wollaston. I am appalled by the insults lobbed at you in the comments above by people who cannot distinguish between debate and rant. I find it bizarre that those in the Leave campaign will not simply accept that we were missold Brexit when the fact of that stares us in the face. No amount of justification based on selective facts will change that. Do you Brexiteers not understand the catastrophe that will result if we implement the dogs breakfast of a plan that your leaders have prepared for us. They had free rein to create and deliver what they promised and instead have come up with this. There is no solution to the Irish Border; no solution to the decimation to British Industry that will result from the removal of easy to pass borders; no solution to the immigration 'problem'. Just a vastly demeaned and impoverished country trying to tell itself it now has 'control'. Please come back to the real world, Brexiteers. Leave your fantasies. Stop this madness. We need you to help us get out of this mess.
- Peter Scott

Peter, I keep hearing that we didn’t know what we were voting for – that we were missold BREXIT. The truth is that the facts are out there if you want to find them. I mean real facts – not “decimation to British Industry”, “no solution to immigration” or “no solution to the Irish Border”. However, I completely agree with you on the “dogs breakfast of a plan” drawn up and will fully support Dr Wollaston should she vote against it. However, a real fact – this was not by a “BREXIT leader” as you suggest, but by someone firmly in the Remain camp! I admire the principled stand made by Dr Wollaston– although I do not agree with it. I don’t see lots of abuse above as you do– just a degree of frustration with the current situation and an electorate who wish they had understood these views before the last General Election. When can we really trust politicians to tell us the complete truth – only selective information that supports their view? This has always been the case. For example, let’s look at some real facts – YES, we hear a lot about the fact that nearly half (44%) of UK exports in goods and services went to other countries in the EU in 2017. However, the rest of the EU as a whole sells a lot more to us than we sell to it – in fact, 23 of the 27 countries sell more to us than we do to them. As an example, Germany sold us over £20bn more than we sold them. Overall, the EU sold around £70bn more to us than we did to them – figures vary slightly from one website to another but are all of this magnitude. The only country with a significant balance of trade in our favour is Ireland. Think about it – that is a strong position to be able to negotiate from! Why would Germany want to put trade barriers and tariffs in place? Lots more examples like this if you want to look. I base my decision on a number of factors and not the selective ‘truths’ (or what some people call lies) of either side – whether it be the £350 million for the NHS or the total collapse of the economy (and everything else it seemed) if we dared vote for BREXIT. Let’s just get on and implement the outcome of the referendum and negotiate from a position of strength as the trade figures above suggest we should be able to. Such incompetence and infighting in government can only lead to the conclusion that the majority of our political representatives (apart from a few) have never had the intention of acting on the outcome of the referendum – so came up with a ‘deal’ so bad that it is rejected out of hand and then seek to manipulate the outcome of a second referendum by the choices given to ensure that we give the right answer this time. It is all so disappointing from a democracy point of view! I am probably wasting my breath here as we have all already made up our minds!
- Patrick, Brixham

Peter above. More marks for comedy than cohesion in that argument. Seriously, get a grip. "I support your principled stand Dr Wollaston"...this is Sarah Wollaston? An MP who initially stood for election in 2015 on a pledge to have an EU referendum. When her party won this election, she voted to have a referendum. She initially advocated a Leave vote, consistently tweeting messages about the Brussels kleptocracy and how undemocratic the EU was. Then she converted, miraculously advocating a Remain vote just weeks before the vote. She then pivoted, supporting a party pledging to honour the referendum vote and withdraw us from the Customs Union and Single Market. Then she advocated a "People's Vote" (as if we haven't had one). She is many things (most far more insulting than any comments above you claim to be so offended by). But PRINCIPLED?! Are you having a laugh? "They (presumably he means Brexiteers) had free rein to create and deliver what they promised and instead have come up with this". Really? We've had a Remainer as PM. All of the Ministries of State are occupied by Remainers. PM, Chancellor, Foreign Sec, Home Sec, Deputy PM. Civil Service entirely dominated by Remainers. Again, not really backed by the facts. "There is no solution to the Irish Border". Aside from the solutions that any other countries with borders have? The previous Irish government of Enda Kenny did not raise this issue. The EU has used this issue to meddle in the NI Peace process, aided by a very anti-unionist Varadkhar government in Dublin. The EU used this issue to hijack and break these talks. Remainers have enthusiastically used this issue to thwart the referendum result of 2016. Colluding with a hostile foreign government to weaken the British negotiating position...almost the definition of a Fifth Column. No wonder EU enthusiasts have such a job in convincing people that they have any affection for Britain. "Please come back to the real world". Oh the irony. Why don't you take that advice yourself?
- George, Paignton

I am in your constituency but did not vote Tory. As a Lib Dem I am very pleased that you have changed your mind about Brexit. Changing your mind after more information becomes available is a democratic right and common sense. Please carry on backing another vote. The disaster of Brexit must be stopped.
- Susan. Paignton

I voted to remain in the EU as did the majority of people in the South Hams! I have seen nothing to change my opinion and I’m not sure that a second vote is necessarily the right thing. I hope that you vote for the deal that’s on the table as I dread to think what will happen if we leave with no deal. I worked in the NHS for over 20years and was not taken in by the pledge on the side of a bus or indeed anything else that was said by those Brexiteers who turned tail and ran away when they got what they wanted! Well done Theresa for taking on the job!
- Carole

If by informed you mean acknowledging both the poisitves as well as the negatives of the UK leaving the EU, then as somene who only focuses on the negatives, I'm not entirely sure you are qualified to impose such a decision on us. And isnt this at the numb of the argument. My firm believe is the government, servants of the people, should in 2016 have remained non-partisan, presenting a co-herent argument both for why we should stay and why we should leave. Instead it was a free-for-all, with both sides indulging in slightly misleading information. So the population had to filter all this 'noise' whilst being told time and time again... you have this one go. No re-runs. No second chances. So, how do you think people reacted to this? After weeks of TV debates, MSM reporting, you honestly believe people made their mind up on catching sight of a bus with a number on the side... or the endless 'cliff-edge' scenaros? Let alone your change of sides days, with the coordinated MSM coverage? And since we are talking about informed... perhaps you'd like to explain how you envisage the EU will developing over the coming 5, 10, 15 years? As someone who had to provide a brief to a multi-national business on the Maastricht treaty, I distinctly recall identifying it as a one-way street to a Federal Europe. Something subsequent treaties have built on. So please, lets be honest here. During this informed vote, are you going to stand up and tell the people of the UK what staying will entail? ie The true cost.
- Stuart Price

I wholeheartedly agree with Sarah's views. I think Brexit will be a disaster. I voted remain but I had no idea of the chaos it would cause and therefore I doubt that anyone else did. We were fed a load of lies by the Leave campaign. The Remain campaign was frankly poor and I think they were convinced the result would be to stay that they didn't try hard enough. I think we need a second referendum. The first one was very close. I think we should have a second one to check that the first represents the (now) informed opinion of the people. I will accept the second result.
- Simon Lansdown

Like Simon, I'm in compete agreement with Sarah's views. As the Leave campaign was full of non- or even misinformation (and the Remain campaign was scarcely a campaign), it is time to ask a (little) more-informed voting public what they think. Now we have more of an idea of how any Brexit will affect aspects of our everyday lives - cost of living, the NHS, the environment, food safety, workers' rights - I hope people will think carefully about the whole idea rather than one or two aspects that appeal to them.
- Morgaine

Anyone that thinks a betrayal of 17.4 million people that voted to LEAVE the EU in the face of 'project fear' will get them re-elected is living in cloud cuckoo land! The current Withdrawal Agreement needs to be rejected and we need to go back to the EU with a very clear message that there is no agreement while the 'backstop' remains. They clearly wan't to keep this 'trump card' so they can blackmail us with it again during the future trade negotiations and it MUST be withdrawn. If it is successfully removed we can then enter trade negotiations with the EU on an equal footing, without blackmail. An approval of the current agreement will only lead to a Labour Government under Jeremy Corbyn and a massive increase in political discontent among the British People. If Theresa May does lose the vote next week, and I certainly hope she does, we certainly do NOT need second referendum as the decision to LEAVE has already been taken.
- David H

Unfortunately Sarah is ignorant of her responsibilty as our representative in Parliament, it is not a playplace for her conscience. She was elected as a member of the Conservative party and she had a contract with us but she has undermined the party on whose back she was elected. Of course she is entitled to her views but should stand as an Independent !
- John

As matters in Parliament move at a pace the suggestion of a second referendum supported by Sarah has one major flaw. No one has put forward a credible suggestion as to what we would exactly be voting for . Mrs Mays deal is fatally flawed because of the backstop, No Deal we are told will be voted out as an option by Parliament . So Sarah please tell us realistically What ? will the question be on the Ballot paper. We have already voted on Leave or Remain. Leave won which you promised to honour in the last Conservative manifesto as did Labour. Time is running out. May I suggest you all get together to sort out a workable and fair Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Framework with the EU and get on with negotiating Brexit as you promised. Now is not the time for another vote
- Andrea

The problem with a second vote is we don't know what the question should be. I think the best solution now as the deal is certain to be rejected is to withdraw article 50. We can then have a proper debate without being under a very restricted time limit to plan where we go next. One thing is clear, article 50 was triggered and the negotiations were started before anyone had a coherent plan of what we wanted to achieve. Only when you know your preferred outcome can you start to negotiate. When we have a firm idea of what the possible outcomes are, then we can have another vote. Oh and next time let's have a tighter control on who is paying the campaign bills.
- Bob

The problem with a second vote is that we've already had one. Remainers are struggling to find ways to nullify the first result, supported by the dark establishment. The Scottish referendum result, Welsh devolution referendum with a 51% turnout won by 0.7%, voting system referendum result; all accepted without a murmer. The 2016 Referendum had over 70% turnout and won by 3.8%, there are over 40 MPs who won by a smaller margin, no call for a second vote. The reason, that's how a democracy has to work, you have to accept the result. Please take note Sarah !
- John

I live in your constituency and I fully support your position as we approach these critical few days for the future of our country. The democratic principle is crystal clear and the terms of Brexit should be put to the British people to decide whether to proceed on those terms or to keep the current deal we have as a member of the EU. Thank you Sarah!
- Tom

The fact that Sarah Wollaston has changed her mind on Brexit is not evidence that she is unprincipled, unless that principle be that it’s wrong ever to change your mind. Be wary of high principles in politics; they are often used to justify simplistic and uncharitable policies (left or right). I value kindness, compassion, and a willingness to compromise and to alter your views when the facts change or when you become better acquainted with them. I’ve seen that in bucket-loads in Sarah Wollaston. She is a fine MP. I’ve never been a Tory voter, but I might just change my mind if Sarah stands again. Keep up the good work, Sarah.
- Tim, South Milton

Patrick from Brixham said that Canada-plus-plus would “deliver the Brexit I and millions of others voted for”. That may be true, but the reasons for voting leave were many and varied. About a third of leave voters simply want to curb immigration (but many other leavers are unconcerned about levels of immigration); another large minority were attracted by the idea that we’d be richer outside the EU and were swayed by the promise of an extra £350m to spend on the NHS (while other more economically-savvy leave voters realised this was nonsense); some libertarians simply want to have complete control of our laws, come what may (but EU regulations do not particularly bother other leave voters); another group, especially in poorer areas, were fed up of eight years of austerity and falling living standards and thought Brexit might be a way out; others still were fed up of being ignored by the liberal elites, and were simply lashing out at those in power. Whatever reasons people had for voting leave or remain, what was not on the ballot paper was the form Brexit would take; Switzerland-, Norway- and Canada-style arrangements, as well as Brexit to WTO rules, were all mooted but none was settled on. No particular vision of Britain after Brexit was properly explained and agreed on - beyond the fairly meaningless but brilliant slogan ‘Take back control’. Furthermore, the referendum was advisory but the government chose to treat the result as a political mandate. This is important. I think it was a mistake and undemocratic, and should have been challenged then and still should be. If the referendum result had been clearer, it would probably have been fine. But the margin of victory was narrow, with only 37% of the whole electorate voting for Brexit, and a slightly smaller percentage voting against; if 500,000 people had voted differently, it would have gone the other way. The country is divided and there is no agreement on what form Brexit should take. We now all know far more about the implications of Brexit, good and bad. It is absolutely not undemocratic nor unconstitutional to call for a second referendum. In fact the idea was first proposed by none other than Jacob Rees-Mogg, who said in a speech in the Commons, “We could have two referendums, and it may make sense to have the second after the renegotiation is completed”, and also by Nigel Farage who, just before the 2016 referendum, said we should have a second referendum if the vote were very close. So, be sensible, stay calm, and be pragmatic; we British are very good at that (or used to be). Don’t shout and rant like IDS did today and threaten civil unrest. That is highly irresponsible and damaging to democracy. Democracy did not end on 23rd June 2016. Don’t be afraid of asking the people again. They are not stupid. If they are adamant that they want Brexit - whether that’s no deal or Theresa’s May’s deal - they will tell us. It should be perfectly possible to come with a fair question or set of questions that leaves all options on the table.
- Tim, South Milton

What would those questions be Tim especially as most MPs and Voters do not agree with Mrs Mays deal as it stands or crashing out with a No Deal. Plus we have to come up with something the EU will agree to and they say the negotiations are over. If there was an easy answer someone would have come up with it after 2 years How will a vote help. If we go back in it will not be business as usual everything has changed. You need something for Leavers to vote for. But of course you probably do not want that.
- Andrea

Good points, Andrea, except for your last little sneer. I do want something for leavers to vote for. I think that binary options (No deal vs May’s deal; Remain vs May’s deal; Remain vs No deal) are fraught with difficulty, but given that we voted to leave in 2016 and that May’s government has agreed a deal with the EU, then a choice between No deal and May’s deal would not be a travesty of democracy or justice. However, as you point out, no one seems to like either of those options; and recent polling suggests there is now a majority for Remain. So it isn’t ideal. We could have a two-stage vote in which we are asked to vote again on whether we want to leave or remain. If we decide to leave, then we have another vote where the choice could perhaps be May’s deal vs No deal. It isn’t easy, it needs debating, and we’d need constitutional experts and independent pollsters to come up with wording that was acceptable to most people. I think it’s possible though, and would lead to a result that was both democratic and binding.
- Tim, South Milton

Congratulations Sarah on your stance for a sensible future for the UK. It is clear that the PM's proposals can satisfy no one - we would be tied too closely to the EU for the hard Brexiteers and we would loose too much for those of us who voted to remain. The question should be put to the people to decide now that the real consequences of leaving the EU are known.
- Peter and Olga, Kellaton

Tim, South Milton - Nowhere did I advocate or suggest a Canada Plus deal or any other deal. The options in the referendum was crystal clear - Leave or Stay. The implications of leaving were spelt out clearly by our then Prime Minister, Chancellor and Head of the Bank of England. As you say, people voted for a variety of reasons but the important fact is that they voted to Leave - I would expect our Government to carry out this out. Any further referendum that gives the option of Remain raises deep questions about our democracy - especially one that carefully selects the question to ensure a 'Remain' answer such as the question proposed by Vince Cable amongst others.
- Patrick, Brixham

Apologies, Patrick. That was "David H" who said that, not you.
- Tim, South Milton

Well done Sarah on your stance to rejecting the current Brexit deal and for supporting a people's vote. There is every reason to reject this fudged and deleterious deal for our country will lose far more wealth and opportunity to create wealth than we have at present. I don't want to envisage food shortages, medicine shortages, queues of lorries trying to leave or get into the UK, a lack of trade deals if we leave and all this mess for our children to deal with. We are a prosperous country thanks to being in the EU and will be able to continue to make even more trade deals from within the EU once we decide to remain. And remain we when we are given a second referendum, for now we know what leaving looks like, and it is not at all pretty, we can choose a better future for our country by voting to remain. And when we do vote to remain, there will still be a split country to heal and a need for both leavers and remainers to work together, much as that may seem unappealing to both sides, for only by having a country that creates more wealth than at present can we have our improved plocing and efucation and NHS.
- Howard, Totnes

Forgive the spelling mistakes- it was posted automatically. Howard.
- Howard, Totnes

I laugh everytime I read the comments. We need another vote and "Will stand by the second one. How about a Third or Fourth if people are not happy with the outcome. Sarah is a disgrace to the Conservative Pary and the People of Devon, majority voted to Leave, get on with it and stop being a traitor.
- Pat Brodie

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21 AUG 2018

Informed consent is essential before Brexit surgery

If you were about to undergo surgery, you would expect to know what the operation involved and to be informed about all the risks and benefits. It's called informed consent and no decent surgeon would go ahead without it.

Brexit certainly is major surgery with far-reaching consequences and the government is about to proceed without informed consent.

At the time of the referendum the choice was simply to leave or to remain. The type of Brexit was not on the ballot paper, which is like a surgeon asking their patient to consent to an amputation in two years' time without either of them knowing whether this would involve a few toes or their whole leg.

Voters were assured that this would be the easiest deal in history and that the world, including the EU, would be queuing at our door to trade on our terms. There would be cake and we would be eating it, alongside every fish that swam in our waters.

In the real world, instead of a bespoke deal we are all being marched briskly to the edge of the cliff. No deal and no transition look increasingly likely to be the outcome, and is the preferred option of those MPs who have deliberately and fatally undermined the Chequers plan.

The surgery looks set to be far more radical than anything set out in the referendum and the side-effects and complications of a hard, walk-away, no-deal Brexit with no transition are very different from the promised targeted surgical excision of just the parts of the EU that the Brexiteers didn't like. Shouldn't people have an opportunity to weigh up the risks and benefits before proceeding?

Once we know the final terms there is not just an opportunity but a duty to set out the unintended consequences as well as the potential benefits. There is a compelling case for that to be followed by a people's vote: we have to make it clear to government that it should not embark on potentially ruinous surgery without the informed consent of the British people.

It might be that a majority nevertheless decide to proceed, but there is no democratic mandate for Brexit until the choice is clear and an informed decision can be made. If the hard Brexiteers are confident about their walk-away, no-deal scenario they should be happy to agree.

The polls show that public opinion is turning on Brexit, especially as the sheer scale of the cost and consequences becomes clearer.

No responsible government should countenance deliberately and knowingly inflicting such economic and social harm on its people before at least checking that is what they really wanted.

72 comments

Excuse me, but I would argue that the referendum was a democratic mandate. Only subsequently do the remainers seek to redefine the result. But I have a few questions. Words like cliff edge, disaster, and devastating are all very emotive, and feed into project fear. But what exactly do you predict, and how do you know you are correct? Two world wars were disasters. Chernobyl was a disaster, and the Asian tsunami. Venezuela’s economy is a disaster. What scale of disaster do we face? Will there be a war with Germany over Brexit? Will we see stagflation, a run on the banks, food rationing, another winter of discontent in the spring? Do you think that by spreading panic, talk of stockpiling food and medicine, supermarket shelves will be stripped in a day, you will instigate the disaster you expect, and say “told you so ?
- John Daer

I agree with John as he makes many good points. We will be leaving the EU as was voted for in the referendum. Brexit is extremely popular and there is no turn against Brexit. The economy will reach dizzying highs unknown hitherto after we leave the EU. The EU is like a niggardly old man failing but unable to accept it.
- Derek

To continue Sarah’s analogy the surgeon needs to amputate as much as possible to ensure all affected and diseased parts are removed which will encourage healthy recovery from the problems . Thus Brexit needs to be a clean break to encourage recovery of the economy and a healthy future.
- Derek

It's quite wrong of scientists and businesses to attempt to derail brexit with their demonstrations against it as a democratic vote was taken and everyone had the opportunity to vote on this matter. As the scientific community are supposedly amongst the more intellectual members of our society I would expect they have the necessary intelligence to counter any constraints they may encounter after Brexit. This similarly applies to the business community which needs to adjust in a suitable way to the future as it presents itself after Brexit has taken place.
- Derek

I run a small technology business dealing with both the UK, Europe and the US. The reality is that if I produce the right goods at the right place, it doesn’t matter whether we are in or out of the EU. Successful commercial UK companies will adapt whatever the outcome despite the scare stories – that is why they are successful. There is a bigger principle at stake here – that is democracy. You tweeted a couple of days ago about the “growing prospect of poisonous extremism in power” – I too am extremely worried about this but firmly believe this becomes even more likely when the wishes of the often silent majority are ignored as may now become the case if your way forward comes to pass. You wish for a second vote. A second vote is likely to be structured to ensure that the ‘desired’ outcome is realised. Easily done - for example, have 3 choices – Leave without deal, Leave with deal proposed or Stay in EU – hence splitting the leave vote between two options. So, if we assume voting along the lines of the original vote, an outcome of 48% vote Stay, 26% vote to accept deal and leave, 26% vote to leave without deal would have those who want to Stay proclaim they are the winners – even though 52% still voted to leave! Easily done but hardly democratic! Over half of those who voted will still have voted Leave! A further nail in the coffin for democracy driving reasonable people to vote for more extreme elements in the hope of shaking up the establishment who have failed to listen in a desperate attempt to be heard! I would class myself as a traditional Tory voter – maybe even one of the silent majority. I have voted Conservative at every general election since I was old enough to vote. It is difficult to see how the traditional Tory voter will be able to vote for you at the next General Election with your current stance. If you read this, you may see me as old and out of touch and maybe in a minority of Tory voters, but rest assured, I know exactly what I voted for with Brexit, I am not old and very much in touch with what happens in the real world. But I guess we will what happens at the next election.
- Patrick, Brixham

Absolutely right Patrick. You have absolutely made my day with your splendid comments. Democracy is already a thin veil and we do not want it becoming any thinner by ignoring a majority that voted in favour of Brexit.
- Derek

Hold the line, out is out, we need to escape the moribund megalith. It is way of achieving a European power block run (by others), to achieve control by the largest economy in Europe to ultimately ‘manage’ the smaller/weaker economies of Easter Europe. This has failed militarily twice and will succeed using the European Union as the chosen vehicle to achieve it. We should not be apart of this. Common Market, - yes, Common currency - yes, Co-operation with neighbours - yes, Handing over the keys to the Kingdom - to a third party - NEVER!
- Richard

I am amazed at the tunnel vision of people who say leaving the EU has any benefits for the UK. This nonsense about “taking back control” is just another convenient sound bite for the masses, like “strong and stable”. I’m amazed that so many people can be duped by such ridiculous, vacuous statements, without anything to back it up. Brexit is madness and Dr. Wollaston is right to demand a people’s vote. Those who rattle off another favourite sound bite that Brexit is “the will of the people” to give authority for even a no-deal forget that only 57% of those eligible to vote actually voted in the referendum. And this excludes those under 18’s not allowed to vote. So, at best Brexit is the will of some of the people, the majority of whom were duped by career politicians like Gove, Johnson and co., backed by millionaire businessmen like Farage and Banks, who stand to gain personally financially from getting the UK to leave Europe. It makes no sense to leave and, yes, it will be a disaster for this country. And how ironic that those who say “it’s democracy” don’t want the people to have the final say! I have never voted for the Conservatives, but thank goodness we have a Conservative member of Parliament willing to stand up to the Tory in-fighting on Europe that has gone on for decades and who speaks for the common sense view that we need to stop this madness. Keep going, Sarah, you have plenty of support.
- Kevin, Totnes

I absolutely support your thinking on Brexit, Sarah. Thank you, thank you, thank you! We all need to know what precisely the surgeon is removing and what we will suffer as a consequence. You are a brave woman!
- Greta Jensen

I no longer support a second vote but if there is one the question should be: 1. Should we leave the EU Yes / No 2. If we do leave would you prefer to accept the terms offered? Yes / No Voting No means you support the "No Deal" option Papers are invalidated if both questions are not answered! This will ensure that the decision to leave, or not, is still based on the majority and also gives the people the choice of supporting the negotiated agreement or a "no deal". I am not a great believer in referendums as I have less confidence in "The People's" judgement then you seem to have, but if you trust their judgement then also offer the "no deal" option!
- Mike UK

Sarah, wrong party? Your thinking is rational and clear rather than wrong-headed and driven by a narrow ideology. The Tory party is in pieces and has driven the whole Nation to this absurd historic blunder fundamentally because of internal party squabbling. The 'democratic' vote was a disgrace to the necessary, vital, complex and civilized concept of Democracy. Is this what we think we are exporting to the world? Cynical untruth's, appealing to the more base instincts, promises impossible to keep but who-cares-as-long-as-we-win (something!). Long-time Tory me, I feel sick to think I may have to align myself to this chaos.
- steveK

How right Patrick is. His company will not fall of a cliff edge. He will continue to run his business and probably run it better without interference from the overpaid bureaucrats in Brussels who delight in wasting taxpayers money to ensure they maintain their splendid life style. Out means out, hardly difficult to understand and that is what the majority of the Totnes constituency voted for. We do not need another referendum or vote to trawl through the terms and our MP should recognise that fact. World Trade terms will be perfectly satisfactory and at the same time saves a large and unnecessary Billions of pounds payment to the EU. At the same time we can get our fishing back which it is not difficult to see would be the pawn to give away in some dreadful Chequers type deal.
- Graham

I am very much one of the Silent Majority. I voted Remain and have never seen or heard anything to make me change that opinion. I can only thank Sarah not only for all the work she has done in our constituency throughout the holidays but for her wise comments and action in suggesting we think again before Brexit.
- June

"Take back control" is good. That, surely, means that the people of the country take back control and make an INFORMED decision - not that a small group of public schoolboys make our decisions for us. As David Davis has said, "A Democracy that can't change it's mind is no longer a Democracy."
- Bob

The country is not run through referenda, but by elected mp s. and the process of parliament. But parliament has seccumbed to endless in fighting and the peddling of falsehoods. Leaving without a deal would be a disaster, and should be at leadt posponed until some clarity amidst the confusion which the process has engendered has subsided. Far from being a bold decision leaving especially without a clear deal is a cowardly and misguided journey into myth and idiology, of a few not a majority in parliament. Thank goodness our MP has come to see this, and is couragious enough to say so. Let us support her!
- bernard

Dr Wolloaston has lost my confidence and my vote. Given the dreadful state of UK politics, it will hard to find someone to vote for at the next election.
- Rob J

I felt very much informed as to the risks of Brexit. Every house had one of these documents sent to it. Despite this 54% of the Constituency voted leave. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/515068/why-the-government-believes-that-voting-to-remain-in-the-european-union-is-the-best-decision-for-the-uk.pdf
- Tim Harvey

Sarah`s analogy of Informed Consent to Leaving the EU is flawed, she must know this.. At best Informed Consent gives hope, certainly not a guarantee of outcome. It`s playing with words by a Remainer who cannot accept the result of The Referendum. Staying or Leaving we don`t know the position in 5 years time, the hope is for something better outside the EU structure than inside.
- John

"Out means out" is not an argument. The Brexit issue is not a game of cricket with a winning side and a losing side which should concede graciously. I have yet to hear which specific laws from Brussels are oppressing our freedoms and will be repealed to our general benefit, or see any figures put on the financial gains which we are promised will arise from no-deal Brexit. The majority of the Leave arguments have been ill-disguised appeals to emotions. I sympathize with my fellow Britons who feel that their country has been sold from under their feet and believe that the impact of Freedom of Movement, for instance, has been ignored by those who most obviously benefit from it (employers, businesses) at the emotional expense of those who live with the effects of it, in a changed daily living-environment. But this shambolic, hard-right driven Little England crusade is cutting off our faces to spite our noses. Thanks for your Economic logic and political insight, Sarah.
- Julian

I have never voted Conservative, and the current attempt by a reckless minority of self-serving Tory MPs to promote a hard Brexit agenda, interpreting an ambiguous referendum in an uncompromising and one-sided pursuit of recreating past glories re-confirms my natural antipathy - but I WOULD vote for Sarah Wollaston, because she is not like the rest of her party. She is a courageous and independent minded voice of reason, and on this issue she is right yet again. Democracy is not a once in a lifetime snapshot of opinion on an unknown outcome; it is a process of debate and compromise, constantly taking the pulse of what is good, right and acceptable. We did not know what outcome we were being asked to accept in the referendum vote. Once we know what kind of outcome is being proposed we should be able to vote on that.
- Simon, Totnes

All these sound bites offered by politicians and grabbed by the media and the public. What is project fear and who is conducting this so called project? Perhaps we should label the Brexiteers predicted economic wonders of leaving the EU as Project Fantasy. A pro Brexit MP recently said how that when we leave the EU food prices will fall dramatically, well that depends upon our currency not suffering a further loss of value. Also how are cheap imports of food good for our farming industry and where is the added value to the economy? Is it with more households spend on even more imports?
- Nick

At the referendum we were given two options leave or remain, leave campaign telling us that we would see no difference on leaving plus the famous £350m a week going into the NHS, now the leavers all tell a very different story and we here constant doom prediction. I voted remain and have seen nothing to change my onion, but the reality is that this country has voted to leave but from what I understand we are not actually leaving or staying, this is not an outcome that either side voted for so we must have a peoples vote on whatever is agreed in the final negotiations, this must give three options. 1 Accept agreement and leave on these terms. 2. Reject agreement and leave (Hard Brexit) 3.Reject agreement and remain within the EU This is the only democratic way to proceed with this decision which will dramatically effect all our lives for years to come.
- Ray Wakelin

I was given the option of leave or remain, if the vote was to leave the Government would implement the decision. This must be done failing which we have no democracy. We have to give it a go, if we don't like it we can apply to rejoin !
- John

As a long time labour/socialist voter ( I am 86!!) ,no hope in Totnes, I can only reiterate June's comments. Sarah has bravely tried to do her best for us in this Tory Government .Thank you Sarah.If only we had LibDem government??? Devon for Europe!! Here is hopeing!
- helen lindsay

If we had a Lib Dem government as Helen suggests we would not have to worry about Brexit causing a collapse of the British economy . The Lib Dems would manage to destroy the economy with or without Brexit. We voted to leave and that's exactly what we will be doing.
- Derek

Derek [and others who still support Brexit but get angry about a Second Referendum ] , What have you got to be afraid of if we have a Second Referendum ? . Its still a Democracy if the votes are counted fairly and the question we are Voting on is answered after hearing facts . I am sure you remember that we were told by UKIP that "Turkey would join the EU by 2020 and that as many as 15 million people would leave the country for the EU in the first ten years of its membership". That and other 'untruths' have since been seen to be untruths . So in Sarah Wollastons analogy , if we in fact found that the Doctors had thought, in 2016 that a left toe on the LEFT foot was to be amputated but now in 2018 the FACT was that it was a RIGHT leg that needed to go , would you not ask for a Second opinion at the very least and then also demand that you could change your mind on the decision you made to cut of your small right toe when asked in 2016 ? If not surely you will lose both . - that sounds idiotic to me . David Davis [ an ardent Brexiteer] has said, "A Democracy that can't change it's mind is no longer a Democracy." Additionally - Another likely outcome if you dont chose to support a Second referendum is there will certainly be a General Election and then all bets are off as to our future with a Corbyn government. so cut the emotion and read the facts
- only for SW will I continue to vote Tory

Are you aware that Fishing quotas can be sold and in fact many have been to other European operators so its plain wrong to think that Brexit will return these Quotas to UK control .
- a reply to getting our fishing back

Now that everything is falling apart, it makes sense more than ever to have a final, people’s vote. That is democracy! Macron was right when he spoke out this week saying that Britain had been conned by lies into thinking it should leave the EU. All power to Sarah who is standing up for what is right and fair.
- Helen Petit

If only for SW will I continue to vote Tory thinks another vote on Brexit is democratic what happened to the democratic vote we undertook in 2016. Only ditherers change their minds continuously at every twist and turn because they lack the intelligence to explore the facts. If the strangely named "Only for SW will I continue to vote Tory" had managed to make its mind up in 2016 there would be no need to waste more taxpayers money on another referendum. To continue Sarah’s analogy if the surgeon was unable to make a definitive decision and stand by that decision where will we be? I suspect there must be unpalatable decisions taken by surgeons everyday and these things can go wrong but mistakes can and will be made unless one stands by their decisions. Surgeons and Doctors do not know everything and cannot forsee every possible outcome and neither can politicians or businesses. I believe we have heard all the scaremongering from remainers over the years many times whenever there is a worry like the millennium bug etc ad nauseum. I actually believe that if we do not leave the EU we will see satellites fall from the skies and little pink pixies at the bottom of the garden. Cars will refuse to start ,washing machines will explode and catch fire and the police will experience cutbacks and pigs will fly. Actually some of these things already happen so that's proof we must leave the EU before all the other things start to happen and we all go crackers. That's already happended too.
- Derek

Leaving the EU will be like waking in a nice warm cosy bed after a successful operation. Staying in the EU will be like ending up on a cold mortuary slab after an unsuccessful operation.
- Derek

Let's not forget Sarah Wollaston was elected on a false prospectus, in a constituency voting 54% to 'Leave the EU'. With this in mind should she not tender her resignation or be deselected ?
- John

Sarah stopped being my MP when she stopped recognising the manifesto upon which she was elected. After having previously supported her personally, I can now say that I was conned by a liar. I will be voting for Johnson in the forthcoming leadership election, and look forward to Sarah either leaving the party or being removed.
- George, Paignton

I see the rentamob brexiteers from boriscentral are out in force. We were lied to in the referendum campaign and we are still being lied to. Brexit could be a disaster and we ought to be given the chance to look at what the deal will be and decide then.
- Bob

Fair comment. Is there any progress on how a customs union could be incorporated ? this seems cornerstone
- Karen

I see the rentamob remainers are kicking back with no real positive suggestions to support their views. This is usually the case with people that have been indoctrinated with ideas that are not their own. Remainers please wake up and understand we voted to leave the ailing EU and that is precisely what we will be doing.
- Derek

I totally agree with Sarah and support her view. We were sold a pig in a poke and deserve a real vote where we know what we are voting for.
- Pat

We had a vote . Voting took place a few years ago.In case you forgot we voted to leave the ailing EU. Please get with it.
- Derek

Brexit cost the tax payer £500 billion at the referendum to stop the economy crashing, which the common person has to pay back to the Bank of England. Brexiteers do not even know this. Brexit with no customs union will cost the NHS England £124 million a day, 7 days a week in tariffs as we buy most medicines from the EU, we cannot make them ourselves. That is double the mere cost (47p each per week) to be in the EU falsely claimed by Boris Johnson on the side of the red bus. Half our membership is actually spent on us in this country building our roads, hospitals, bypasses etc. MEMBERSHIP PAYS. Each week is costing us one billion poinds in bad exchange rates, endless talks and not including lost business. Brexit wil mean people will have to pay 28%-88 tariffs on foodstuffs to and from the EU. That is 94% of all Welsh food and drink, similar amounts of Irish and Scottish farming produce. It will be uncompetitive. You will also have to pay VAT on good leaving the EU and then be taxed again here. We import more than we export. That will be forever, not a one off payment. The EU employs fewer than Leeds City Council and our 200 plus MEPs improve the laws our PM and the 27 other leaders decide together to implement. However less than 6% of our laws even mention the EU in passing. Most environmental laws and fishing laws are international, not EU and we have to abide by them anyway. The EU is a stable and healthy platform which has helped this country grow and given its people rights (maternity leave, maternity benefit, gold plated child care, the guarantee of a pension). It is expected that up to 19 million jobs will go if we exit the EU, mostly women's first, as people will no longer be able to affordd to employ you. Brexit is social and economic suicide. WE are losing OUR rights, the EU citizens still have theirs. 11 EU countries want to start taxing hedge fund traders like Gove and Farage andBoris Johnson and David Davies and Rees Mogg - all these people who trade abroad despite claiming they cannot and are worth millions. The Eu wants to impose a tax of one half of one percent - their cleaners pay 19%!. They are trying to avoid tax adn governemnt controls so the people like me and you pay for all our roads, hospitals, bypasses, schools etc without tapping into Conservative MP Rees Moggs £50m in a state Russian bank or his £500m portfoliio in Indonesia where this Catholic no abortionist makes abortion drugs. YOU ARE BEING DUPED. They own bit coins - a currency on the ethernet which has no government and cannot be traced or taxed and they aim to keep all their money up their while you pay for their way of life - rather a socialist concept.. WAKE UP BRITAIN BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE. EUROPE IS ON YOUR SIDE, THERESA AND HER CHAUFFEUR DRIVEN CAR ARE NOT.
- SIV

The Tories will never be able to secure a sensible EU withdrawal outcome because of its historic divisions over EU membership and the red lines Teresa May has forced upon negotiations. A second referendum/people's vote will only continue the division in the country.The British Border in Ireland can only be resolved with N. Ireland staying in a customs union/framework with the EU. Seinn Feinn, The IRA, Eire (who now have a say over furure constitional arrangements in the North) and the EU will not allow any other solution. This means the only resolution that can be found is by a General Election in which a mandate for such a position can be agreed by UK citizens.
- JB

Another Referendum is undemocratic? We’ve had 40 years to know precisely what Remain we’re offering; and two more to discover how little was understood about Leave. If Hard Brexit/Remain had been the offer, Leave would have gathered many votes and LOST. It follows that the Government have never had any mandate for No Deal. In the range of options between No Deal and a Soft Brexit, we have no way of knowing, two years on, which deal would have won a majority. Brexit was the Government’s mandate to waste more than two years on finding out what could be achieved. This debacle has been the essential and democratic consequence of David Cameron’s disastrous misjudgement. Referendums have to be simple binary choices. That was Cameron’s mistake. Once the Government has agreed a deal with the EU a People’s Vote is the only democratic option if Parliament fails to accept it. Well done, SW
- Nick

I was already aware of rumblings among local Conservatives, discontent about Dr Wollaston; but really, she seems to be saying, "Bring it on." Just the other day in the House she is reported as saying, "The only politicians’ vote would be one which contrived to deny this House a meaningful say and ignored the 700,000 people who walked past the Prime Minister’s door at the weekend to demand a people’s vote. That is because it is important that everyone has the chance to weigh up the evidence..." etc. Yet again she pretends that we did not have a "people's vote" in 2016, and that the referendum was somehow inadequate or meaningless. It was a simple binary choice to leave or remain - and the former won, by 53% in England, with almost exactly that figure for the Westcountry, though in nearby Torbay 63% plus voted Leave, in Plymouth 60%... Yet again our MP - who turned her coat from supporting Leave to become an ardent Remainer - supports those who would overturn the clear result of a referendum vote initiated by Parliament. It is wholly unsurprising that Totnes area Conservatives should be dissatisfied with the attitudes and performance of their MP. Given Dr Wollaston's stance, and Mrs May's abysmally inept conduct of Brexit negotiations, there is not a chance I shall vote Conservative next time round. I am confident a great many others feel the same.
- Tony Harrison

Fully agree on the need for informed consent. The issue is however WHAT you seek consent for. There can only be TWO democratic options given the first vote, they are to accept the deal or to leave with no deal. Yes there were 700,000 people marching, however there were 17,410,742 who voted out. I don't believe that the 700,000 should out weigh the 17,410,742 because they had a strong PR machine. Any vote that results in 'not leaving', IS UNDEMOCRATIC. Whilst this government (and to be honest: parliament as a whole) have failed the people (irrespective of your initial vote) due to self interest, we need to consider IF we wish the "home of democracy" to join those who use the term ONLY when it suits them.In this, we as voters CAN take back some control, as outlined above. From memory Dr Wollaston's constituency voted by 54.1% to leave. based on post vote analysis the vote, based on our political constituencies (the basis of our democratic model) showed 242 remain, 406 Leave, in other words a 26% majority to leave!!. Let's be clear IF the vote had been on the constituency boundaries defined by the current government then the majority to leave would not have been 3.78% but 26%. For those who voted to REMAIN, I feel your pain, I was one, however there is a wider issue (in my view) at stake and that is whether we ignore the democratic will of the people because it does not fit with our own desire or view. We may feel we know better, but do we? Does our vote mean more than theirs? A second vote, and its viability, is wholly dependent on how that vote is framed. If it in any way means the UK remains in, or under (any aspect) of EU control then it IS anti-democratic. Lets assume we have a second vote where the majority swings the other way, do we have a third vote and continue "Ad Nauseam" (I am already sick of it)? We either accept the constraints and limitations of democracy or we go to a darker place. In terms of the NI border. We have had an open border with EIRE for years and long may it remain. We have a customs structure aligned with the EU. Tell the EU there WILL be no border. Should they wish to implement one then, that is their choice. Do NOT be drawn into NI politics or the DUP (who want everything to be the same providing it is not gay marriage, abortion .....). Time for the politicians to STOP playing politics and deliver what the people said they wanted (irrespective of their own personal views). Time for us to consider whether we want Europe or democracy, I know which I will go for even though I voted REMAIN. Having said that I see Sarah Wollaston as a powerful advocate of an institution we SHOULD all be very proud off (the NHS). Unfortunately we (the voters) need to understand that we either need to pay for it, reduce the scope or turn to the American model (god forbid).
- GP

The only vote I require is a ballot of local members to remove Sarah Wollaston as the Tory MP. She has long since stopped promoting ANY Conservative policies...surely it is time the party removed the whip and deselected her.
- George, Paignton

It appears that, as our MP, you have decided to to stay as a remainer in spite of the democratic majority vote to leave. Therefore you will not receive my vote at the next election.
- Ian, East Allington

Well I am considering breaking the habit of a lifetime and voting for a tory, so that cancels out the East Allington kipper.
- Bob

Well done, Sarah. Here are quotes from an excellent article by AC Grayling in Prospect magazine, in support of a People's vote. "Recall that the referendum was advisory. No referendum in our constitution can be otherwise, because of the doctrine of the sovereignty of parliament; but MPs were expressly reminded of this in advance of their debate on the referendum Bill, in a House of Commons Library Briefing Paper (number 07212, 3rd June 2015), and confirmed on the floor of the House of Commons by the Minister for Europe, David Lidington (Hansard 16th June 2015). “Parliament has never specifically debated the outcome of the referendum, nor specifically voted on whether or not to accept the advice of the advisory vote. Instead it has chosen, without discussion, to treat the outcome as politically mandating although constitutionally advisory only. Given that parliament and the government it supports exist constitutionally (see the UK parliament website and MPs’ code) to protect and foster the interests of the country and its people, and given that the most optimistic projections of the effect of the best possible Brexit indicates that damage will accrue to the economy and livelihoods, this privileging of the political over the constitutional raises profound questions. […] “Of the electorate enfranchised for the referendum electorate, 37 per cent voted in favour of leaving the EU. On the day of the vote this proportion was represented by 51.9 per cent of votes cast. The 37 per cent figure requires context: by statute a trades union needs a vote of 40 per cent of its total membership to call a strike, otherwise the strike is illegal. There cannot be a general election outside the fixed parliamentary term unless 66 per cent of all sitting members vote for it. This high bar exists because a general election might bring about a change of government and therefore a change of national circumstances. Major and perhaps permanent constitutional change chosen by 37 per cent of a (restricted) electorate is by no standard a mandate, and this is a big reason why the referendum is far from conclusive.” […] “In light of all this, a second referendum is an absolute necessity. It conforms to the common-sense principle that it is wise to consult second thoughts, a principle applied in parliament itself in relation to no confidence votes: if a government loses a no confidence vote, a second such vote must be held two weeks later to see whether anyone has changed his or her mind. If that principle (to protect a government against the momentary anger of its own backbenchers, mainly) is good enough in parliament, in the momentous matter of the UK’s EU membership it is a must.”
- Tim

You don't give consent to have a toe removed only to wake up with an amputated leg. Can many leave voters list ALL the significant consequences of Brexit that will affect them and others? Brexit is a coup. The 2015 referendum act granted an advisory, non-binding referendum only, preserving Parliamentary sovereignty. The 2016 referendum was not therefore a democratic "decision" but an opinion. Before the vote Cameron offered implement the outcome. He was not entitled to do this. That is why it went to Parliament in 2017, but by then MPs were faced with an expectation that they should regard the referendum as binding. Parliamentary sovereignty was disempowered. Before the final implementation vote in March 2019 Parliament should be given opportunities to debate freely and vote on a number of motions regarding the relationship with the EU. This will provide a numerical view of what Parliament would support for the common good weighed against the advise from the referendum. It can then vote down the implementation bill if the deal made is unsatisfactory, without triggering a no-deal Brexit, knowing that an alternative bill would pass. Whereas the EU can absorb a no-deal Brexit, the UK cannot. It kicks in immediately, with disruption of supplies resulting in business failures. Parliament is sovereign, it is the guardian of the common good, it can only pass an implementation bill that contains a satisfactory Customs or Free Trade deal. Failing even that article 50 should be repealed. Once out, the UK stays out. Reentry would not just mean no rebate, but also compulsory joining of the Euro-zone. Terrible idea.
- Martin

Apparently our Conservative MP is not even going to vote for the Budget now. This is essentially a vote of no confidence in the government. Our manifesto was very clear. To leave the Single Market and the Customs Union. To not have a second referendum. Boosting the bands to 12.5k and 50k was in that manifesto that nearly 27000 people in Totnes voted for. They are not having their expressed wishes represented in Parliament. Why would our MP vote against this budget when it so obviously in line with Conservative Party policy and values? As a previously loyal supporter, I am sorry that Sarah Wollaston has some time ago (to all intents and purposes) left the Conservative Party. She should have the decency to resign from the party and call a by-election...that way constituents can make their wishes known either way. The party should remove the whip and make clear that it will have a different candidate in Totnes at the next election.
- George, Paignton

I entirely agree with your post Sarah. As far as I see, if democracy exists, it should exist every day, not just on the 23rd June 2016. If the Govt are insistent on respecting public opinion, they should listen to it every day, not just on that one day, in 2016. There are times in the past when inconceivable behaviours may have been supported by the public and, should the public have been given the choice, voted to be legal by them. This does not mean that we stick with the opinion of that one time and run the country forever by that opinion. We move with the times and consider what is best on a daily basis, we should not be acting on an opinion that may not even exist today. If it does exist, then what is the harm in another vote to simply 'double-check' it still stands?
- Sandra Jackson

George from Paignton wants to disrespect the verdict of the voters of Totnes, at the last general election, and have another vote. Would that be a peoples' vote?
- Nick K

The people of Totnes voted for a Conservative manifesto that Sarah Wollaston is blatantly working against. Our MP is the only one disrespecting that vote. She is the best advert for recall there is. Sarah Wollaston Members of Parliament are not little Gods on Earth with permanent tenure. If they refuse to enact the wishes of their electorates, they generally get moved on. Not sure if "Nick K" does understand democracy, or just doesn't like the recent outcomes of votes.
- George, Paignton

So, having publicly stated many times that trade negotiations cannot start until the withdrawal agreement is concluded and the UK cannot 'cherry pick' the EU has conveniently forgotten all of that and embarked on a cherry picking exercise of it's own! They are effectively trying to blackmail us into giving them fishing rights in return for avoiding an issue with the NI border and that is plain to see. All I want from the EU is a Canada plus free trade agreement and as friction free trade as possible, nothing more and nothing less. The pigs breakfast cobbled together by Theresa May does not deliver a clean Brexit and leaves the UK as an EU dependency, which is nothing short of outrageous. It should be voted down by Parliament and a new Brexit supporting PM appointed to sort this mess out. I simply cannot believe what a shambles Parliament is making of a clear instruction from the British people.
- David H

All of you Conservatives who slam Dr Woolaston dont get the idea that if there is something wrong with an idea there is little point playing Party Dogma and letting the Country go to hell in a hand cart . She has the Spine to speak her mind a vote as she feels is right , a true Leader. Open your eyes and your minds to a new way of thinking , its not Dogmatic , Stupid !
- G David - businessman

Please Sarah - do something to save us from this madness. The UK can't be ruled by simplistically-worded referenda. And can people stop talking about the "will of the people". For every 17 people who voted "leave", 16 people voted "remain". The young will be most affected, and many of them were too young to vote 2 and a half years ago.
- Margaret

Open your mind Open your mind.
- Derek

Well now we know, the 'Trojan horse', Theresa May, has finally confirmed her intention to make the UK an EU dependency, indefinitely! Her lack of political judgement was laid bare when she called a snap election with a lack of any meaningful manifesto policy commitments a short time ago, but that pales into insignificance compared to the monumental error of judgement that she has just announced with the draft Brexit agreement. Along with over 17 million other referendum voters I am left feeling like I have been totally deceived and betrayed by Theresa May and the political establishment that is Parliament. At every stage of the negotiations she has caved in to EU demands and while I admire her courage and tenacity as far as I am concerned her position is now untenable. Quite apart from a weak and feeble performance in the withdrawal negotiations she has spectacularly failed, with the assistance of Philip Hammond, to prepare the country for a 'no deal' scenario, which is nothing less than a gross dereliction of duty. This might be a 'good deal' for the EU but it is an 'unbelievably bad' deal for the UK. In return for £39 billion and a complete capitulation to the EU all she has gained in return is 15 pages of notes indicating that we will work towards some form of trade deal with the EU in the future and that is not even legally binding! It beggars belief that anyone could put this before the country as a good result, let alone a victory. If this deal gets past cabinet and through Parliament there is not a chance that I will be voting conservative at the next general election and the party is heading for political oblivion.
- David H

Written after the Cabinet ‘support’ for the Withdrawal agreement . Its is so evident that we need to go back to the Referendum. I am delighted that our MP has had an open mind and the spine to stand up for the benefit of the Country and not the short term political dogma. It is a huge decision and what is certain is that we now know a lot more about the whys and wherefores of Brexit and some of the original mantra has been outed for being incorrect ( the early fake news ) . I am in full support of a People Vote and have huge admiration for SW and her integrity in supporting this , often in the face of unecessarily aggressive comments on this blog . Let the full honest debate continue. If we do vote out again , I ill respect that as we have now had proper debate and knowledge on this enormous decision.
- Gabriel David

Oh so after voting to leave in 2016, and then voting Tory to leave the Customs Union and the Single Market in 2017, you are telling us that you'll accept it if we vote out again in 2018. Thanks for that(!). And we're supposed to believe that are we? The debate will not continue...as far as leaving the EU, it finished on 23 June 2016. Sorry you missed the memo. The only vote there will be now is a Conservative leadership election. As a member I am looking forward to voting for Johnson or Mogg. There'll be many more like me. There won't be another referendum. And Sarah Wollaston won't be a Tory MP...although anyone following her 'progress' over the last two years will scarcely have seen her espouse any core Conservative value in any case.
- George, Paignton

100% agree George, though I'd add David Davis to your list.
- John

Dear George of Paignton The debate whether or not to leave the EU didn't finish with the referendum. There were so many lies told, one of the major donors to the leave campaign is now facing a criminal investigation and still there were 16 remainers for every 17 leavers. Not exactly an overwhelming majority. Now we know more about how brexit will affect us surely we ought to re-assess our situation. There are many situations where what seems a good idea looks very different in the cold light of day. What the the leavers afraid of? If leave is such a good idea surely people will vote for it again.
- Bob

Hello Bob. Both campaigns exaggerated the truth, told lies and put across their arguments in ways that were inaccurate. I might very well point out the lies told by the Remain campaign when they denied that the EU aspired to have a common foreign and defence policy (which it this week moved towards). I might point out that David Cameron disgracefully used taxpayers' money to fund one side of the campaign. I might even point out that in 1973 British people were asked to sign up to a Common Market, and were assured that there would be no political integration...when the political establishment of the time knew that this was a lie. That's politics dear boy. All campaigns in all elections always lie. It is for the electorate to make their choice. They did that on 23 June 2016. I know you didn't like the outcome. I didn't much like the outcome the World Cup Semi Final. But I dealt with it. And so should you. I am not persuaded by the case the Electoral Commission has made against Darren Grimes and Arron Banks, and will wait for the courts to adjudicate. I do know that a significant number of individuals in senior positions at the Electoral Commission had made outspoken remarks against Brexit. This is clearly not appropriate and has damaged the credibility of the Electoral Commission. I know exactly how Brexit is affecting us. Unemployment is at a 43 year low. Latest UK growth is higher than all other major EU economies. Borrowing is falling. None of the loaded Treasury forecasts were proven true, and I have long since stopped believing their fairy tales. I am not afraid of any vote. Election results have tended my way in the last few years, and I trust the wisdom of the British people always (more than my own). But it would be perverse to ask the people again when the government still have not implemented the initial instruction. And it would be seen for the transparent anti-democratic blocking measure that it is. The cold light of day does not change the fact that after a five month campaign, 17.4 million people voted TO LEAVE THE EU. The next vote should be a Conservative leadership election...the members have not elected a leader since 2005, and it is high time we did.
- George, Paignton

Bob, "What the the leavers afraid of?" - I think the answer is obvious. Manipulation of the vote - i.e. manipulate the vote by setting 3 choices which will split the 'Leave' vote between 'Leave and accept deal' and 'Leave with no deal' ensuring that 'Remain' wins (even if it gets little more than a third of the vote!). But there is a much bigger picture here - this is no longer just about Brexit. The public are already disillusioned with politics. Ignoring the original vote just reinforces this!
- Patrick, Brixham

We cannot have another referendum which includes the question "remain in the EU". This would be a referendum on a referendum and would be profoundly undemocratic. It would simply be a rerun of the first. Notwithstanding the legal status of a referendum, the government chose to have one and to abide by the decision. Any volte-face on this point would destroy all trust in democracy. Although my view is that our elected representatives should deal with the nuts and bolts of any deal, I would not object to a further referendum on the terms of the deal, providing no questions were included which would have the effect of reversing the first referendum.
- nigel

To add to what I have said above, is seems to me that any people's vote would have to be phrased as a choice between accept the deal offered or do not accept the deal offered. This would mean that there was no question of remaining in the EU. Two points arise from this. One, if we were to remain in the EU after all, we would be crawling to it with our tails firmly between our legs and for the foreseeable future would be treated by the other major EU powers as second class citizens. We would be a laughing stock. Two, the EU negotiators have acted thus far with intransigence so as to teach the UK a lesson for daring to leave their club. There is therefore little likelihood in my view, that any alteration to the present deal on the table would be more than a tinkering round the edges at best. On the other hand, no deal would be likely to be a disaster according to most opinion. For this reason, I think we should accept the deal offered. There is little alternative.
- nigel, Dartmouth

The British people voted but they were not informed of the details and difficulties we now know about. No one can deny this . Just like agreeing to an operation you then go away and read up on the details , you go back to your surgeon nearer to the time of the planned operation. You have all the risks read out to you and the detail of the procedure. You are then asked to sign a consent form. The British people deserve the right to now sign that consent form or to change their mind in view of all they now know. This is not to repeat the process of a referendum but to fulfil it either way. I would suggest one further point of negotiation we offer to keep open borders but everyone coming to the UK has to have health insurance arranged in their country of origin. We have huge numbers of Eastern Europeans using our health service every day often requiring expensive translators and often receiving expensive care when they have not lived in the uk for long and certainly have not contributed to our taxes. I feel the EU would understand we can't afford to offer free health care any more to these new comers. There also has to be an understanding that in order for their children to receive free education they must speak English before entering our school system. Many people voted to leave thinking it would be better for our NHS -read the BMJ this last week and see just how misled they were. However with obligatory health insurance those with poor health would not be able to afford the premiums and it we would then see a reduction in the numbers coming into the UK. However we need many EU workers to keep coming maybe the employers who rely on cheap labour, fruit and veg picking for example would have to pay the health insurance for their workers. At-least then we could say to the EU we would keep our borders open and continue to benefit from the hard working healthy migrants who add so much to our country and economy.
- Cathy Peterborough

Perhaps the people campaigning for a second referendum would be taken more seriously if they'd ever supported a referendum on our EU membership in the first place. Or if they'd supported a referendum after Maastricht, Lisbon or Amsterdam. The people were not consulted then before British sovereignty was removed. How funny that we need to have two referendums on this issue, when we had none on the others...anything to do with the fact that the establishment lost perhaps?
- George, Paignton

George from Paignton makes a valid point and I completely agree with him. As for Theresa May and her appeal to the public to support the deal she has just put before us it will not be coming from me! Only a fool would sign up to this deal, which only serves the short, medium and long term interests of the EU. All it does for the UK is preserve the status quo for a few short years and then leaves us pitifully weak when the future trade negotiations finally get underway. We have been treated with utter contempt by the EU during the withdrawal negotiations and effectively blackmailed over the Northern Ireland issue. As currently worded this document will make the UK a permanent EU dependency with an obligation to comply with all future EU laws with no say in them whatsoever. The draft deal also gives the EU a veto over whether we can actually leave the transition phase, or single customs union, which means that we will again be blackmailed with that during the trade negotiations until the EU get everything it wants. How on earth can anyone, let alone a British Prime Minister, say this is a good deal? While aspects of it covering defence, security and citizens rights might be acceptable the proposed backstop arrangement cannot and must not be voted through in Parliament. It would be a betrayal of our democracy and over 17 million people that voted to LEAVE the EU. We did not vote to become a permanent EU poodle or dependency! The recently published political declaration on our future relationship has NO legal validity and is only designed to hoodwink the British public. In my view we should not sign anything with the EU until the future trade deal is agreed. They cannot be trusted to deliver and we should not agree to give them £39 billion on the promise of 'jam tomorrow'. Not since Clement Atlee declared 'peace in our time' has a British Prime Minister shown such a lack of foresight and political judgement.
- David H

So because Remain lost in 2016 there needs to be another vote. I think people will get very angry and vote leave again . People really don't like being told to vote again because they gave the wrong answer. What will you do then Sarah ? Presumably resign. By the way you might think people in Brixham , who are after all your consituents love your weird whacky views but I assure you that if you go door to door canvassing you will hear what people really think about you.
- Peter Thompson

No MP should knowlingly and willingly sabotage their PM and Party with the kind of nonsense that you spout here and in Parliament
- Janet TT

Thank God that someone decent and conscientious is prepared to serve us and our country's interests. We elect her to understand the issues as best she can and do her best. Show some respect and less "screen ignorance". Well done SW
- Nick K

'We elect her to understand the issues as best she can and do her best'. Yes, but we also expect her to keep her word based on her election claims and her party manifesto; we do not give her a blank check. SW has proved herself to be untrustworthy, that in itself makes her unsuitable to be a representative MP !
- John

Sarah, I cannot thank you enough for your principled and courageous stand against the utter madness of us leaving the EU. Great article clearly showing the damage leaving will cause our country. Only today I read that over £800 BILLION pounds has been moved by financial services/banks in London to the EU. And that, is a conservative number. The disgusting attack on Anna Soubry, killing of Jo Cox, the level of abuse female remainers receive etc says it all about the people that support Brexit. My thanks again for your stand.
- Stuart

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26 FEB 2018

A Customs Union or Arrangement is in all our interests

During and after the referendum campaign I asked many people about the priorities behind their vote. The fact is that there was no one single issue. For some it was a promise on the side of a bus, for others, 'taking back control' over issues ranging from agriculture and fisheries to immigration and sovereignty. I met almost no one, then or now, who felt that we should accept being poorer as a result. As the reality hits home that the EU will reject sector by sector deals, 'the cake and eat it' approach, even if that means economic pain on both sides of the Channel, a stark choice lies ahead: Do we really want to march out through the exit door with no deal at all and with less than a year to put in place complex customs and borders arrangements? Rather than presenting a rose-tinted view, the hard Brexiteers need to level with the public on the scale of the unintended consequences. The government should not keep the economic impact analysis locked in a secret reading room accessible only to Parliamentarians but publish these so that everyone can examine the evidence.

In supporting New Clause 5, an amendment to the Trade Bill that would keep us in a form of customs union or customs arrangement after Brexit, I am not 'blocking' Brexit or 'obstructing the will of the people'. Britain is leaving the EU. This is an argument about the type of Brexit and that was not on the referendum ballot paper. The duty for MPs in carrying out the will of the people is to examine the evidence and press for the best possible Brexit, not to make their constituents poorer.

My view is that we should also opt for membership of the EEA and EFTA at least for the transition period. This would allow us to leave the Common Fisheries Policy and, like Norway, regain control over our fisheries, an issue of great importance to Brixham. But frictionless trade is also hugely important for both fishers and the processing sector, and in particular for exports to our most important markets in the EU.

Without a form of customs union or arrangement, border checks are an inconvenient inevitability. Without a customs union the current fudge over the border between North and South on the island of Ireland will inevitably become untenable. No one wants a return to the conflict of the past. The price of abandoning any kind of customs union is too high and I won't support it.

There is also a simple truth that there is no Parliamentary majority for a walk-away, no-deal Brexit. The small band of hard Brexiteer MPs need to stop throwing down red lines like spaghetti and stop threatening to remove the PM unless she bends to their will. The PM has herself spoken clearly of wanting a customs agreement with the EU and NC5 is compatible with that as it does not call for 'the' Customs Union on existing terms. My role as an MP is to read the evidence and to clearly state the case for what I believe is in the best interests of my constituency and the country even if that is sometimes wilfully misrepresented by those who simply want us to walk away, whatever the unintended consequences.

64 comments

There is a point when you need to support your party leader, not to second guess theoretical scenarios. Subverting a democratic vote makes you unfit to stand for election as 'we would not know what we were voting for'.
- John. Dartington

One of the unintended consequences could be the defeat of the Prime Minister and the election of Jeremy Corbyn- a man who has never been a fan of the EU and could create an existential threat to Parliamentary democracy. If you vote against a 3 line whip and cause the Government to be defeated I am not sure I could vote for you again.
- Andy Totnes

I wish more MPs would take a thoughtful, well reasoned and independent approach like Sarah. Keep up the great work you do for all of us.
- John Scott

As a lifelong Tory voter who is beginning to waver, I feel rather frustrated by talk of Customs Union (including Labours turnaround) and see it as a way to really keep us in the EU - out by name only as nothing changes. If this ends up in a fudge of not really being out of the EU, not being able to control our borders and not being able to negotiate our own deals I despair! Why did we bother with a referendum? Maybe it is time for older voters like myself to give up - especially with the grief given by certain members of society. The way things are going, maybe a hark back to the 1970s will shake up a few people who didn't experience it and maybe some good will come of it?
- Patrick, Brixham

Richer or poorer? The short answer is that it's really not about the money, but about restoring our sovereign right to govern ourselves. Opinions differ about the extent to which we have been ruled by people in Brussels & Strasbourg, the most authoritative being that of the House of Commons Library some years ago: according to one's interpretation, between 15% and 50% of our laws emanate from abroad - not from our Parliament... The European Parliament
- Anthony Harrison

Little or no point in your permitting comments here if one is restricted to a single cursory paragraph: my previous comment was slashed by at least 80%. Message unwelcome, perhaps...
- Anthony Harrison

Remaining members of the customs union could be the best solution for the next 3 to 10 years. We can always review this sometime in the future [but don't let the EU hear that said]. We can then deal with all the other implications of leaving the EU and put off the trading alternatives for another day. We have to achieve this without the EU bullies adding caveats such as free movement of labour, unreasonable contributions, EU laws for unrelated issues etc. It is a shame that Labour formalised this policy before Tories. The Tories have to get their act together and demonstrate a united front. The impact of having a Labour Government would do even more damage to our economy than a bad deal Brexit.
- Mike Allen

You are right to interpret what Brexit means, it was by no means clear in the referendum question and the governments interpretation of what Brexit means is just that. Only a small fraction of the population voted to be poorer the rest of us want to continue our prosperity and hand it down to our children. A hard, brutal Brexit will damage us all both economically and socially.
- Peter Sturdgess

Re the comment from Peter Sturdgess, one has heard this before. But the referendum was wholly, unambiguously clear: it was a simple binary choice between leaving the EU or staying in. And 53% of English voters (who form 85% of the UK population) voted to leave.
- Anthony Harrison

Dr Wollaston, I think "Raedwald" (excellent blogger, construction industry professional, retired to Austria) has an excellent summary today, extract: "Brussels is said to be preparing tomorrow to destroy the progress we all imagined had been secured over Christmas. They will insist we impose a hard border in Northern Ireland, and we will refuse. Their driving the UK towards either a hard exit or a Labour government, a new referendum and a reversal of Brexit is deliberate and inescapable. This is not a negotiating process designed to ensure an amicable future, but unsheathed hostility and territorial aggrandisement, meddling by power-struck fools and amateurs in Brussels with an undistinguished record of failure, conflict, death and disaster in everything they've ventured. They're gambling, and playing with peace in Northern Ireland..."
- Anthony Harrison

'Trust me, I'm a doctor', may work in the practice of medicine but is inappropriate in representative politics. Sarah's about turns do not inspire confidence, especially when supported by smoke and mirror arguements. I think she may feel more at home with the LibDems !
- John

If you vote with Labour you will at best give succour to the EU that they can strong-arm the UK into accepting a very bad deal and at worse you will bring down the Government and potentially install Corbyn and his very left wing comrades in No10. All the hard work of the last 8 years will be wasted and within a very short-time the legacy of post Thatcher liberal economic policies will be laid waste as Corbyn and MacDonnell impose their version of a socialist state on the UK. You must know that we cannot stay in the single market and we cannot stay in a customs union because if we do Brexit is meaningless. Last year another 578000 migrants settled in the UK. If we stay in the Single market we will have to accept free movement if we stay in a customs union we will be worse than Turkey. If we cannot strike our own trade agreements we may as well stay in the EU and accept humble pie. Australia, NZ, both took this step and their fortunes and people are much the better for it. Please re-consider your position and remember that the Conservative party's future depends on delivering Brexit and keeping Corbyn our of power.
- David Taylor

I didn’t vote for you but have long admired your intelligent, independent and principled representation of your constituency.
- Ben

As a Conservative voting member of this consituency I have written to Sarah several times on the subject of Brexit and as recently as yesterday. Having read her reply and blog which talks in favour of a Customs Union I get the impression that she is about to join the ranks of Corbyn and Co and vote in direct opposition to her own Government! Theresa May and our negotiating team are working hard to deliver a departure from the EU on the best possible terms and I find it staggering that they are not being either trusted or supported by one of their own Conservative Party members. While we are almost certain to end up with customs arrangements that are acceptable to both sides this is a matter for the negotiations. Voting against the Government before the negotiations have even started will hardly help our cause and through these pages I would urge Sarah to think again on this matter. Liam Fox is absolutely right to say that if the UK was to enter into a Customs Union with the EU that prevented us from doing our own trade deals it would be disastrous for our future prospects. We will in effect have given up what little influence we had in the EU and yet remain dependent on this over-centralised, bureacracy for the foreseeable future. However, if our negotiating team are able to negotiate a customs arrangement which leaves us free to do our own trade deals that is something that could actually work in the short and long term. To get such a deal of course requires Conservative MPs to get behind and support the Prime Minister and our negotiating team, rather than joining the ranks of Labour and undermining them. A majority of the British People voted to leave the EU, full stop. We did not vote to half leave and all this talk of doom and gloom after we have left is just like 'Project Fear', a lot of hot air that has very little to do with reality. At a time like this all our MPs should be supporting the Government and working in the national interest, not working with Labour to bring down the Government and ignoring what people voted for in the referendum.
- David Hoy

Thank you for your clear, rational thoughts. There is much evidence that abandoning a customs union will damage the economy for many years. Hard Brexiteers offer little of substance and much fanciful rhetoric. It is time to face reality.
- Jennifer Smith

I find Dr Wollaston's reply somewhat condescending, as though we are unaware of how Parliament works, or able to think for ourselves. There is much discussion about 'hard' and 'soft' brexit; 'soft' appears to mean capitulation to the EU. Our negotiators have behaved in a traditional British way, by listening to the other side and being prepared to compromise, where clearly they do not. It should be recognized, and often repeated, that we are one of the world's strongest economies, and are capable of trading, and prospering as an independent nation, free from the dictats of EU interference. So to vote against the government (effectively with Corbyn and Co) only strengthens the hands of the EU, who see dissent as working for them. I suggest that if Dr Wollaston does not agree with a single point, surely it would be better to abstain, rather than vote against the government? A defeat of the government would be disastrous for this nation
- Barry Day

I voted remain as I firmly believe that our future prosperity lies in close co-operation with europe. A hard brexit that takes us out of the customs union will only do us harm. Business will suffer and imports and exports will be complicated. I remember in the referendum campaign that much was made of the 'Norwegian model' in fact in 2013 Boris Johnson said he was in favour of remaining in the single market and yet we are told the the only way forward is a hard brexit. Whilst it is very touching to see so many people trusting politicians over brexit I wonder whether this is wise. Beware the loss of the regulations which keep us safe, do you really want chlorine washed chicken or beef full of antibiotics and steroids?
- Bob Bowling

The EU (of which we, the UK, are an influential part) has negotiated over 50 trade deals with other countries, entered into over 700 international treaties, set pan-continental standards from animal husbandry standards (which we are trying to improve) and aircraft safety rules to conditions of work (of which we have the lowest as a result of an opt out) and regulated the transport of nuclear material. They have also made rules that 28 sovereign nations have to operate within to achieve the most integrated free trade area in the world that collectively makes up the world's second larges economy. All this has been approved by a democratically elected parliament and approved by the 28 nation states. What's not to like?
- Simon JD

Behave yourself and fall in line behind your leader. Vote with the whip and remember why you're there - to keep our party in Government. Also, you're qualified to give medical opinions, not economic ones. As your comments show, you have not the slightest grasp of trade or economics. Best keep your nose out.
- Mark

I note your Tweets about the Prime Minister’s excellent speech earlier today and would like as one of your constituents living in Totnes to express my concern about your stated lack of confidence in the government’s and Theresa May’s approach to Brexit. I have to say too I have been most surprised over the last few years to see how your far your position has changed since appearing initially to support leaving the EU. Leaving was always going to be a hugely important change of direction and is something that every Conservative MP contemplating supporting it ought to have been thinking through thoroughly in the years preceding the referendum. Equally of course a decision to remain would have had huge ramifications for our future. No-one can fail to be aware that the EU is unstable and that changes, which would most probably have been unpalatable to the UK outside the Eurozone, would be the inevitable way forward for Brussels. So voting to remain would have been a huge leap in the dark too. Given the importance of the arguments for and against our continuing membership and the momentous opportunity that the referendum presented in terms of reassessing our relationship with Europe, I believe each of our representatives in Parliament ought to have long had a fairly settled view on the matter. (I do recall your sudden realisation that leaving the EU might hinder NHS recruitment from continental Europe. But obviously the weighing of pros and cons has to go far beyond that.) I have been strongly for leaving the EU for many years now, having become less and less happy with the diminution of democracy and the increasingly authoritarian way Brussels goes about its business. Since I took part in the original vote to join a trading block – the old EC - the whole nature of our relationship with Europe has changed, with no participation by the UK electorate in whether or not this change is acceptable. For centuries we in this country had an incredibly stable and equally a robustly responsive, democratic system. But from Maastricht onwards our politicians became more and more willing to abandon our hard won rights to citizenry participation and to parliamentary government. I read yesterday that former Prime Minister John Major recommends MPs listen to their constituents. What irony. From a man who gave so much of this away! Beware Dr Wollaston, he would prefer you hear only from those clamouring for a second referendum. From a man who in his time refused us a referendum on the grounds that decisions on vitally important matters of state should only be made by elected members of Parliament! For me, Brexiteer that I am, I can see nothing wrong with MP’s having a vote on the final Brexit deal. This is what bringing back democracy is about. I recognise and respect the view of continental Europeans that their new found stability, within the framework of the EU, is a very reassuring and positive development for them, contrasting as it does with the horrors endured so recently and so widely under both communist and fascist rule. Like many though, I fear this new found stability is extremely fragile and will prove illusory, with a European Parliament unable to exert any effective control over the Commissioners. (We had a taste of this in Greece and maybe Italy will be next?) Whatever the future holds for the EU, it has become progressively apparent it will entail a far higher degree of centralisation and bureaucratic authoritarianism than we in the UK have found acceptable over recent centuries. This cannot be the way forward for us. And this is why I voted to leave – I’m afraid all the much ridiculed clichés apply, summed up by ‘bringing back control’ - a return to democracy. (One gets the impression our friends in Europe are somewhat despairing of the messy and rather chaotic way the UK appears to be going about the leave negotiations. To my mind the last eighteen months has seen a rather wonderful reassertion of democracy and debate. Something rather alien to M. Barnier?) One of the things that I think has been extremely unhelpful from those arguing for second thoughts is the perhaps intentional impression, that there is such a thing as a ‘soft Brexit.’ Nomenclature is important. There are two sorts of Brexit - not soft or hard, but fake and real. As Mrs May has correctly put it ‘Brexit means Brexit.’ We are now getting into discussions on trade, very much the subject of Mrs May’s very good speech earlier today. Compared with ‘bringing back control’ everything else - summed up in this one word ‘trade’ - is of course detail, very important detail, complex detail, but nevertheless mere detail compared with ‘bringing back control’. I cannot agree with you Dr Wollaston in your assertion that there should be a Plan B. I would have thought seeking the right customs arrangements and all the many sectoral resolutions, in a unique deal fair to both sides, as Mrs May outlined, is the only way forward. I am sure nothing Mrs May said today will have come as a surprise to M. Barnier and his negotiators. Her objective today in publicly disclosing the UK positions was surely and simply to emphasise one thing. That our only objective is to obtain an outcome - with compromises as happens in all ‘trade’ negotiations - that is satisfactory to both parties. To think there might be a Plan B is a misunderstanding of how negotiation works. I was impressed by what was implied in the speech – that if negotiations fail there will be chaos. She was saying there must be agreement: we will have a real Brexit or as she put it originally Brexit must mean Brexit. Anything less than a real Brexit is not a soft Brexit, which is perhaps your Plan B? As I would put it, anything less than a real Brexit is a fake Brexit. Mrs May was talking tough with the EU today: we are prepared to be reasonable as you must be, there must be a good fair agreement or there will be chaos. There can be no Plan B. An unfairness inherent in this kind of conversation with you my MP and with anonymous tweeting and so on, is that you do not know me. I expect you to represent me without your knowing me. And I must feel reasonably confident you have the interests of South Devon at heart and that you know in general how we your constituents tick. Orders of magnitude worse of course, I would argue impossible, is the situation we have when those who represent us in Brussels are in Strasbourg and in any case can only advise. How much more robust when you my representative can bring down a government. I truly hope though that will not be the unintended consequence of what I can only assume is some misunderstanding on your part of the art of negotiation. Finally I really feel I cannot close without explaining something of what I am and where I am coming from. I am a retiree of some ten or so years. I started out long ago with a first degree in physical science, went into the food and drink industry, added in some environmental health and management qualifications along the way, and ended up in charge of technical development reporting to a main board director at a FTSE 100 company. In that latter capacity I spent many years negotiating with both French and US equivalents. (I always found the French obtuse in the extreme and the Americans straight, tough and very good at execution!) My take on things is that if you think you can clearly see where negotiations are currently at, then Mrs May and her team are making a poor fist of it. Be pleased that things are unclear and let that give you the confidence to support Mrs May in every possible way. Maybe accept that your expertise rests elsewhere: there is no dishonour in deference. Good luck as you wrestle with it all!
- Stephen

The UK Does Not Want A Clumsy Brexit We write as Remain voters and labour voters who have studied the Brexit options and have been persuaded to change our minds by the following positive factual arguments for Brexit and the policies of the sensible Conservative government, not least the resolute leadership that Mrs May has shown in the face of a maelstrom of abuse from the EU, MPs and chunks of the press: A - An easy decision was never to vote for, or support in any way, a hard left labour government with a Candidate PM (Corbyn) and shadow team that are so unsuitable for the job. B - The Brexit options needed more thought and analysis. The following points summarise the arguments that swayed us to a position that agrees with the policy the PM decided from the start (Lancaster House) plus the need for an implementation period: 1. Careful analysis of the financial predictions shows GDP is more affected by less immigration than any reduction in trade up to 2030! https://briefingsforbrexit.com/recent-estimates-of-the-economic-impact-of-brexit/ . The impact on jobs of indigenous workers would be small in the worst case of a WTO based deal. 2. In a restrictive customs union versus a free trade deal, the less well off in the U.K. will be disadvantaged as prices will remain higher and choice reduced; this is an established economic fact http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/the-EU-customs-union/ since Britain adopted free trade in the 1840s 3. If the EU wishes to establish a hard border across Ireland then they can force The Republic to do so but not Northern Ireland. A low friction solution has been shown capable of working and when smart borders are developed and applied to all U.K. borders it will probably even give the U.K. a comparative advantage as a modern free trading nation. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/02/24/smart-borders-brexit-will-give-britain-extra-advantage-EU-commissioned/ . A partial restrictive CU does not solve the Irish problem and a smart border will still be needed around the rest of the UK so let’s gain an advantage by developing and implementing it. 4. EU trade accounts for only 12 percent of UK GDP. Please put your focus on the other 88 percent. 5. Business is much more adaptable than you might imagine. Aerospace items are not subject to tariffs by international agreement. The car industry will rapidly source parts from the UK or with friendly trading nations. Food will be cheaper outside a customs union – it was before we joined it. Note the recent large investments made in the UK as evidence of our potential. 6. EU standards are mostly establish by international bodies and followed by the EU. In fact many EU standards in my industry (manufacturing) were modelled on existing UK standards. 7. Human/workers rights will be better protected outside the EU by our Supreme Court and the ECHR and ECtHR rather that the ECJ. 8. Voting for the Soubry amendment of the 8th Feb would commit the Government to staying in a customs union ‘with the EU in the same terms as existed before exit day’. That implies ‘the customs union’ not even ‘a customs union’. The amendment is poorly worded and against what the people voted for in the referendum and would actually hurt the UK - it is just an obvious political trap. If this became a confidence vote it could lead rapidly to a general election and possibly a Labour administration. The EU supported by the powerful remainers will then try and grind Labour down to a staying in the customs union and even the single market - this must be what the ardent remainers want, a backdoor solution to staying in. 9. If we remain in any type of customs union we will have to pay 80% of the tariffs we collect to the EU and probably part of our Vat receipts as well; this is taxation without representation and not acceptable. 10. With the recent announcements of an EU army, the Macron/Junkers ‘more EU’, including pan EU financial governance, indicate that the EU is going the wrong way. Given the lack of democracy in EU governance, imagine how the EU might struggle to survive one or two more crises with a disgruntled EU population only able to vote for every increasingly anti-EU parties. With several anti EU countries acting together it is possible to imagine a right wing takeover of the non-elected EU power base and what then? The Italian elections point to a seismic shift away from support of the EU by a founder country populated, in the main, by decent friendly people. Why would we wish to chance being involved in the unstable EU future for little or no gain? 11. Sending a message that the UK supports free trade to the world by following the current government policy would benefit both the UK and other trading partners. 12. Business directors that I know are putting more effort into a plan for limiting the damage from a Corbyn government than Brexit. Recall Mervyn King predicts Brexit to be a bump in the road not a major disaster. The points above are issues that the EU are very concerned about and wish to try and dampen any advantage the U.K. will gain from Brexit and to try and damage us where they can. The EU is obviously looking ahead to other countries exiting and trying to close down a successful exit by Britain. Imagine how Brexit looks to all the other EU peoples and businesses. We are at a critical time in the negotiation and one would expect the EU to sound hard but if we can hold our nerve (I have considerable experience of international business negotiation) we can agree a win-win deal with the EU based on free trade - we have a strong hand to play. Even in the event of a WTO based deal (‘no deal’ is not going to happen) trade will not stop. UK industry will gain from any EU imposed restrictions as more material will be made here or come from trading partners outside the EU. A clumsy Brexit based on a selective customs union will be too complex, very expensive and would likely damage the UK with no say in new EU rules and regulations. Please reconsider your view on a customs union as we believe your apparent support for the/a customs union is not in the country’s long term interest or for the Conservative party. As I now believe that only the Conservatives are capable of implementing Brexit in a positive fashion, we are considering joining and contributing to this important struggle and need convincing that our MP will support the government and the country at this important time. Will you support the government?
- Sally and James Thomas

On March 29th 2019, the UK will leave the E.U. but we will hopefully not be turning our back on Europe. For the benefit of both parties it will be very important that we continue a strong trading relationship. This has always been the UK’s strength; therefore, I am very supportive of any arrangement whereby we can continue to trade freely with our European partners. I realise this may mean some compromises on both sides but we surely want to maintain trade in as frictionless way as possible. Therefore, I personally support those (including Sarah Wollaston) who wish to encourage such a frictionless trading arrangement without jeopardising our sovereignty.
- Brian Watkin

Leave the EU. Trade is fine. No backsliding like Labour. Britain voted to trade Worldwide. No to remaining in any part of club Europe. People wishing to remain in Europe may,by Moving there. No to being ruled from Brussels.
- Derek

I would never have voted for you if I thought you would jeopardise our vote for leaving the EU. This is the second time after you initially pledged to vote with the public to leave. I didn't initially have a problem with you changing sides as this was an important decision, even though I felt it was based on you thinking this was in YOUR best interest. I am sad to see that you are doing your best to change the electorates votes and feel that a Mr Blair is paying you well.
- Jane

In your view which would be more damaging, a 'hard' Brexit, or a PM by the name of Jeremy Corbyn? Because if, down the line, you vote against a Govt. 3 line whip, the result will be Corbyn Govt.
- Tom

Sadly, after hearing Sarah on Radio 4 today, an unforseen consequence should be that she no longer represents the people of the Totnes constituency. This muddled thinking is an impediment.
- John. Dartington

It seems that your arguments are surmise. You should support Ms May so that we can negotiate from a strong and united position.
- Douglas Gunn

I voted to Leave and it was clear what that meant and I am still a Brexiteer and just hope and pray that Mrs May's "Brexit means Brexit" means just that and that she doesn't do a Dr.Wollaston type about-turn and stab the Leave voters in the back as that shows weakness not strength...I have lost faith in you Dr.Wollaston and the only way you might restore my future voting for you is for you to back your PM in pressing for us leaving the customs union and all other EU restrictions that just hold us back as a country. We are a strong country still in spite of weak politicians and politics and long may that continue but I am not sure that you should as our MP....
- Kay Tee

I wonder, will Sarah support her Government or support the Lord's amendments on Brexit. I suggest her political career depends on it !
- John

Sarah - we are now at one of the most critical times in our negotiations with the EU. In the votes that are to come in Parliament this week PLEASE get behind and support Theresa May and our negotiating team. Voting with the likes of Ken Clarke, who appears to have made it his mission to sabotage our democratically arrived at decision to leave the EU, will do our country serious damage and it could bring down the Government. As you know from my previous correspondence I feel very strongly that the referendum result must be respected by Parliament and our elected MPs. You have made your views known and I respect you for that. However, now is the time to put the needs of the country first, which means supporting the Government and our negotiating team. I am not sure I could forgive the alternative and only Corbyn and extremist parties would benefit from that . . .
- David Hoy

At the next election I hope Totnes has a candidate who does not suffer from a fluctuating conscience and will honour the commitments given to aid their election !
- John

You are doing a sterling job Sarah. I see the increasing negative impacts of a potential hard BREXIT every day in my work, with the movement of legal entities and jobs to continental Europe in anticipation of such a scenario. The people did not vote to trash our trade agreement with the EU.
- Paul

Following on from my previous comments in March I should like to express my very great concern over your lack of support for the government. The intense pressure from you and like-minded MP’s, the House of Lords and associated extremely well-funded external Remain groups, is in my view likely to lead to a very bad Brexit outcome. I think it is time you explained your role in all of this to us constituents. To use your recent words are we being “treated like fools.” --------- A lot of this pressure on the government is now verging on the unconstitutional and I agree with Frank Field that the House of Lords ought now be completely reformed – Sunday Telegraph, 17th July. I supported the recent petition that this should be debated. --------- So I am sorry I have to say it again, but I cannot understand your complete change of stance over Brexit. You have said your position has been arrived at after a very careful consideration of what you consider the most pertinent evidence. The following may seem like a cheap remarks, which is not my intention. But I am afraid it is how your stance comes across. Thus you seem to have gone from originally supporting Brexit, based at that time on presumably your best evidence based assessment, to now being in agreement with a set of evidence which leads you to risking a very unsatisfactory almost non-Brexit. This seems to demonstrate a complete lack of judgemental ability in weighing matters properly? Given you are in the eyes of most outside observers in this position, surely you should accede to the far greater weight of expertise available to the government and support their position? ---------- More generally my concern is that it is surely not for MPs to take over / pre-dictate / restrict Brexit negotiations and seemingly manipulate parliamentary procedure to that end over a ‘meaningful vote.’ This is all clearly a ruse to thwart Brexit and bind the Government’s hand. It is for the Government to negotiate what will be an international agreement, free of such restrictions. The role of Parliament is surely to accept or reject after debate, what the government has managed to obtain.
- Stephen

I have to agree with Stephen`s comments. Leaving the EU is a constitutional change and requires consent of the people, a referendum. This was done and a pledge to enact was in both Conservative and Labour manifestoes, Sarah obtained our support on this basis. If her conscience does not allow her to honour her contract with us, she should abstain from voting against her Government and resign her seat; anything less would amount to deceit and fraud.
- John

Sarah, yet again I feel compelled to write to you in connection with the elected Government's unfolding plans for Brexit. The draft EU Withdrawal Bill has been carefully formulated to translate fully into UK law EU Directives so that when we finally leave this organisation we can continue to trade on a fair and equitable basis. This should make it easier for our negotiating team to establish a new and long lasting relationship with the EU that includes for example trade, security and defence. It has nothing to do with the role of Parliament after Brexit and it is clearly the case that a substantial number of remain voting ex-MPs in the House of Lords have grossly exceeded their mandate by trying to attach a mandate to the draft EU Withdrawal Bill that would seriously undermine the Government and our negotiating team, if it was accepted by the House of Commons. This amendment CANNOT be allowed to stand as it would be immensely damaging to our country's prospects and in my view it would be a violation of our constitution. Theresa May and our negotiating team will get a new and effective deal covering our future relationship with the EU, but only if she is supported by her own party members, including and especially you. For God's sake give her and our negotiating team some much needed trust in the Commons vote that is coming later today!
- David Hoy

I believe Sarah voted against the Government today. I believe Totnes deserves a candidate they can trust, at the next General Election.
- John

Very disappointed with your inability to support the Government today, as I am sure many others will be. Sadly the logical outcome is that I can no find it in myself to continue my support for you.
- Stephen

You are a traitor. We have known that since your last-minute 'change of heart' on the referendum. So whatever good you do, we will never completely trust you. Theresa is braver, stronger, a more democratic woman, so follow her lead. Help her get us out from under the yoke of the unelected parasites in Brussels. Please.
- Jean, Totnes

Sarah, I am in my 70s and do not use twitter - a shallow medium full of ill-considered remarks. Tweets do get picked up by oldies though. Which perhaps means I am allowed some cheapskate replies? One of yours yesterday included this: “The fact is that #Brexit was sold on a false prospectus”. I assume you refer to the £350m a week message on the Boris vote leave bus. Firstly I think there is the usual patronising assumption here that anyone voting leave would take literally what was meant to be a neat and snappy slogan. But since you have got me onto it, what about those infamous parts of the other false prospectus. That on a vote to leave unemployment would rocket; George Osborne’s prediction of a £30bn black hole in public finances; the immediate emergency budget and Alistair Darling’s forecast of one emergency budget after another. This pair unlike Boris you would no doubt say are people of substance? Cheap remarks on twitter and my replies on here are demeaning. Could I suggest we play the ball and not the people.--------- Secondly you say in your recent tweet “As Parliament is not now going to have a meaningful final vote, people should be able to give their own verdict on the deal.” I was at Way with Words last night listening to David Owen who I think was already picking up on your support for a second referendum or something like it. I wish you had heard him – I really do suggest you seek out his wise counsel. Here are his words in a far from adequate nutshell.---------- There have been sharp divisions over Europe amongst senior Labour and Conservatives figures going way back. Nowadays politicians from both parties with metropolitan aspirations, many of whom commute from London in and out of their provincial constituencies, have little real empathy for the problem of local decline. Parliament prior to the EU vote largely supported EU membership, in spite of its adverse effects outside of the greater London area. Its present acceptance of EU withdrawal is therefore grudging. London’s financial dominance has further fuelled in recent decades a side-lining of the declining UK regions. Added to this is the adverse effect of European centrism. All of this has resulted in a divided populace – metropolitan London versus the rest – and an elite with no understanding of the resulting resentment of the centre and a very remote European autocracy. Over many, many years and not just amongst conservatives, the parliamentary process has failed to lance this boil. In the reluctant view of Lord Owen the only way to resolve such an impasse was to hold a referendum. He would not normally advocate such a response but believes there was no alternative as our representative political processes have failed to grasp the depth of alienation from the centre as it has developed over many years. His view is that the decision of the electorate should now be entirely respected, that the matter should now be regarded as settled. His great fear on the other hand is that it is not being respected. More than that attempts to undermine and reverse it will have terrible consequences for democracy in this country.----------- My words no doubt fail to properly summarise what he said but his concern was clear. The current gathering contempt amongst the elite for the democratic outcome of the EU referendum will fatally undermine UK democracy. Sarah, if you have not already done so, you really ought to seek out the advice of Lord Owen. His experience in European and International affairs is unrivalled. He himself has on occasions been a divisive figure but I have always respected him - conservative that I am - as deeply thoughtful, a rigorous thinker. He is an impressive person, please listen to him. Stephen
- Stephen

Sarah 14th July 2018. You know that the EU is broke. You know that they are printing billions of Euro's each and every week to keep Italy, Spain and Greece afloat without mentioning the precarious financial state of other countries. You know that the UK spends 80 Billion per annum more in Europe than they send with us. I am in full agreement with Richard Littlejohn when he writes: Independent sovereign nations do not collect taxes on behalf of foreign governments. Independent sovereign nations do not accept the jurisdiction of unelected foreign judges. Independent sovereign nations do not swallow wholesale rules made by unaccountable foreign bureaucrats. Independent sovereign nations are at liberty to conclude free trade deals with any country in the world. But if May gets her way, none of that will apply. Britain will still be subject to European directives and the rulings of European judges. That’s not Brexit by any stretch of the imagination. Kind Regards, Tim South.
- Tim South

I see that Sarah does not even bother to write this blog any more, and prefers to spout her vitriol on Twitter. Sarah does not have a Conservative bone in her body. I am assuming that steps are underway in the party to deselect her. If not, I and many other will be voting to remove her and the constituency will be lost.
- George, Paignton

David Cameron won a democratic election with a majority, a promise was made for a referendum on staying or leaving EU , a democratic vote was held , the majority of people voted leave. It is your duty and all Conservative MP’s to ensure that happens, otherwise democracy is denied and the use of our vote is pointless. I really wish we could all change our mind who we had voted for in the last General Election, you would not have had my household vote! You, Anna Soubry and the others in your nest of Vipers have weakened our Government at neogotiations throughout, you have changed your views as regular as Jeremy Corbyn, you have done this great country a very great disservice. Please either leave the Party, join Labour or join Anna Soubry in LaLa land
- Peter Mulloy

You, Anna Soubry and the rest of the nest of vipers have seriously damaged the governments hand in EU negotiations, if you do not wish to follow the people’s democratic decision or your Party, stand as an Independant, and then we then know exactly what type of person we voted for, I for one didn’t give you my vote and expect treachery , and irreparable damage to Party and Country
- Peter mulloy

"There is also a simple truth that there is no Parliamentary majority for a walk-away, no-deal Brexit." It is a "simple truth" that a majority of Tory constituencies voted Leave in the referendum, besides which 53% of those in England voted to Leave. Totnes is an odd constituency, what with the post-hippe and Green Party element with the bizarre ideas one might expect; but it is nevertheless Tory, and having lived here for over half my life it seems to me your espousal of surrendering our sovereignty to Brussels, or so tying us to EU regulation that Brexit would be meaningless, must offend a great many conservative-minded people. It will be interesting to see how your position affects the outcome of the next General Election.
- Anthony Harrison

Very proud of Sarah Wollaston for courageously making the argument for PEACE ; most people commenting negatively seem to forget that it was for PEACE ACROSS EUROPE after two World Wars that so many of our allied troops and other nationals were injured or died - over 600 US soldiers alone buried on our beaches.
- Marianne

Very proud of our courageous MP who is looking towards the future and wants to ensure a prosperous country - but above all ensure PEACE across Europe which is what our fathers and grandfathers died for in two world wars. Peace across Europe can never be taken for granted.
- Marianne

Marianne, I can assure you that our fathers and grandfathers, who died in 2 World Wars, would be appalled by the way that Sarah Wollaston has behaved of late. They valued loyalty and would have given little truck to one who had renaged on a belief after obtaining their vote on an issue. A fluctuating conscience would have been viewed with contempt, honour was everything !
- John

Marianne, our fathers and grandfathers would be appalled at Sarah Wollaston`s recent approach to the democratic referendum. Gaining a vote on an understanding, then reversing a position and voting against her Government would have been considered unacceptable. A fluctuating conscience would be given short shrift, honour was everything, resignation would be the only course !
- John

One thing that is very clear in the ongoing debate about Brexit is that there are a substantial number of MP's, including our own, that will stop at nothing to prevent what the people have voted for becoming a reality. Their consistent failure to support the Government and our own team in earlier negotiations with the EU have contributed substantially to the current impasse. I was a staunch supporter of Theresa May but I have to say that when it comes to the negotiations I tend to agree with David Davis and Boris Johnson that in an effort to show goodwill she has given away far too much up front at every stage and this is being exploited by both the EU and her many political opponents in the 'House of Cards' (Parliament). If she is able to secure a fair trade deal in these negotiations at all it will be in spite of some of her colleagues in Parliament and not because of them. The Conservative Party is now in the 'Last Chance Saloon' as far as many voters are concerned. Like me they are watching every unfolding development closely and our views will be expressed at the ballot box unless the referendum result is properly respected.
- David H, Brixham

One thing that is very clear in the ongoing debate about Brexit is that there are a substantial number of MP's, including our own, that will stop at nothing to prevent what the people have voted for becoming a reality. Their consistent failure to support the Government and our own team in earlier negotiations with the EU have contributed substantially to the current impasse. I was a staunch supporter of Theresa May but I have to say that when it comes to the negotiations I tend to agree with David Davis and Boris Johnson that in an effort to show goodwill she has given away far too much up front at every stage and this is being exploited by both the EU and her many political opponents in the 'House of Cards' (Parliament). If she is able to secure a fair trade deal in these negotiations at all it will be in spite of some of her colleagues in Parliament and not because of them. The Conservative Party is now in the 'Last Chance Saloon' as far as many voters are concerned. Like me they are watching every unfolding development closely and our views will be expressed at the ballot box unless the referendum result is properly respected.
- David H, Brixham

Marianne, our fathers and grandfathers would be appalled at Sarah Wollaston`s recent approach to the democratic referendum. Gaining a vote on an understanding, then reversing a position and voting against her Government would have been considered unacceptable. A fluctuating conscience would be given short shrift, honour was everything, resignation would be the only course !
- John

Who cares whether there is a Parliamentary majority? We knew Parliament had a majority of Remainers before the referendum. Parliament gave the Brexit decision to the people, and they chose to leave, not join a half-membership EEA where we'd still be under EU rules and law. You're trying to overturn the result of the referendum, not "respect" it as you claim. You might at least be honest about it
- Ron

To quote Ed Balls: "It is dangerous to start with the assumption that voters are wrong". The people that voted to leave in the referendum did so for many reasons but don't assume that they are not prepared to put up with some hardship or turmoil to achieve the objective of leaving. As our MP, it is your duty to do everything possible to achieve what the majority voted for in the referendum, not to second guess what they "might have meant" or "didn't really mean". Please support everything you can to get us out of the EU, hopefully with a deal if possible but without, if necessary.
- Tim Mattocks

Watched my MP on TV quite a few times lately. My opinion, She is more interested in point scoring with her leader and bettering her own standing than she is in what we vote for. The Disgrace of closing our's and other Local hospitals in readiness of privatising the NHS, and the deceit This May led government is showing towards Brexit and our democratic vote. Is Shameful, or should that be SHAMELESS. I have always voted Conservative and have never regretted it in the past. NOT SO NOW!, I am appalled at the way this country is being led by this government, and will NOT vote for any further May led government and a party so disrespectful of democracy and what the electorate clearly want
- Bruce Dartmouth

Great News of the week, traitor Sarah Woolaston has warned publicly if Boris top ples Mrs May she would resign from the party.. Go for it Boris
- Pat Brodie

Some of the vitriol directed towards Dr Wollaston on here beggars belief, False statistics presented as fact, talk of traitors and even an' individual claiming to know the views of our war dead are frankly beneath contempt and indeed represent the real 'project fear'. Be honest with yourselves some of the views expressed here are much more in keeping with Farage and his motley gang of BNP rejects., If you seek Tory traitors you don't need to look too hard, Mogg, Bo Jo et al are the real traitors who will bring down Mays government but you never see calls for them to be de-selected, indeed from 'Pat's comments johnsons back stabbing behaviour qualifies him for leadership. God help us. I am very pleased that we have a moderate, reasoned MP able to think for herself and try to do her best for the country, she has my full support.
- Ged

Ged You're conflating different things, a typical sore loser tactic. Of course we cannot know exactly what those of a different age we think about Brexit. I do know that there was a time when your word was your bond and how breaking your word was regarded !
- John

I cannot believe how the negotiators have dealt with the bully boys of Europe. If in business we kowtowed to our suppliers/business partners in the same manner businesses would be going bankrupt at a faster rate than they are now. The way to treat bully’s is to stand up to them and stand firm and Not change every time the wind turns. If however they don’t like our terms walk away and get on with the other 93% of the worlds population that are not in the EU, and I can guarantee the EU would soon be back pleading for a trade deal!
- Austen

Sarah has shown that she is not only now fit for office but very capable of seeing the problems, unlike the children who understnad nothing but want to pack their bags age 2 and march out onto the pavement to find somewhere better to live then the EU loving parents. It is not Sarah who should pack her bags. Many people in Brixham are saying they could not supprot her before but do now, however, as they see it voting Labour for the first time in their lives may be the only option if Theresa May doesn't come clean. At the moment she is like a old couple who are driving the wrong way down a motorway and either doesn't know it or is refusing to stop and ask for directions.. She is refusing to stop for more fuel and is about to run out, the warning light is on, there are not many more petrol stations and the EU petrol station is the cheapest, best , nearest and most reliable.
- siv

Thank you for standing up for what you think is right in crucial life changing matters rather than following the party line. What is more we are all entitled to change our minds and finesse our positions as we learn more. I do not always agree with you - but, at the moment, I do on this.
- Paul

Thank you, Sarah, for having the guts to stand aside from playing politics and to consider what is best for the UK in the long term. Nobody who voted in the referendum had any idea what the implications of leaving the EU might be. Now things are (slightly) clearer and it is time for people to vote on what is being offered. Foe example, there could be 2 questions: 1. Leave or Remain? 2. If Leave, No Deal or Current Deal. That is true democracy and it's hard to see what people are afraid of. Let's find out what voters really think before committing the UK to an enormous historical change.
- Ali

We can't go forward if we don't let business build the factory's here, in or out of the EU. Old planning law stops them.
- John, Paignton.

So, the PM is off to Brussels to 'take personal charge' of the final phase of negotiations.Just who is she trying to kid? It is clearly the case that she has been in direct charge of these negotiations all along, which is why two Brexit Secretaries have resigned, because they were actually working to deliver what the people voted for in the referendum. This is just another example of politicians getting themselves elected and then doing what they want, rather than what they were voted in for. In addition to a genuine Brexit deal this country is in dire need of 'root and branch' political reform. I will say it again, as voters we are being deceived, betrayed and the conservative party will pay a very heavy price for this at the next election.
- David H

There have been some very eloquent posts placed here, even by strong labour supporters, who believe you are making a mistake in not supporting the PM. If parliamentarians had got behind the PM to carry out the people's wishes in the first place we would have been in a much better negotiating position. I love European countries because of their Diversity, but it is precisely because of that they cannot work easily together. The UK has always been a capable country who can show a good example as well as follow them. It is disappointing to see you call for a second referendum. I do not wish to see Labour in power mortgaging our countries future. Please support the PM or make way for someone who will.
- Les Dartmouth

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