03 APR 2019

Brexit Update

I wish I could be responding with more positive news but the truth is that Brexit has left us deeply divided and that is reflected in our politics and Parliament. We have reached gridlock. The Prime Minister's deal failed to pass for the third time and none of the alternative options presented by backbench MPs reached a majority. The greatest number of votes was for a referendum on the final deal and the slimmest margin of defeat was for a customs union to be added to the deal.

The legal position is that, unless a deal is agreed by Parliament, we leave with No Deal in little over a week's time. This is I know the preferred option for many who have written to me but not for the majority. It would lead to such serious real-world harms both locally and nationally that I could never support it. It would mean knowingly and deliberately voting to make this community poorer and for many of my constituents to lose their jobs and livelihoods.

I won't don't that.

It could not be more obvious that the problem with the original referendum was that it never defined which of the many versions of Brexit was on offer. The risks, trade offs and benefits of No Deal, Canada Plus, Norway, Norway Plus and the Prime Minister's Deal are all very different but campaigners were able to talk up the benefits and downplay the risks. It turns out that we cannot have our cake and eat it and that countries are not queuing at our door to sign up to advantageous trade deals.

Our future prosperity is already taking a hammering with the steady drum beat of industries and agencies taking future investment and jobs elsewhere. The list is long and growing, from car manufacturers to pharmaceuticals and the European Medicines Agency and this will have a ripple effect far beyond their immediate home towns and cities. Many local businesses including farming would also be hit, particularly by No Deal.

The impasse in Parliament could be broken if the Prime Minister simply agreed to combine the support for her Deal from the government benches with the wide cross party support for putting the final deal back to the people to check it has their consent. It is a great shame that she has so rigidly refused to countenance this.

The PM has now announced that she wants to reach an alternative compromise with Jeremy Corbyn. Few expect this to work if the Prime Minister listens to compromise arguments and then presses on with her own plans. Her current position seems more like running down the clock to No Deal with the ultimatum of accepting her Deal or going over the edge.

Today, back bench MPs are trying to press through a bill to extend the date of that cliff edge. In my view any extension must be long enough to allow the government to put this decision back to the people for a final say either through a general election or a second referendum.

Ultimately, a compromise for a softer Brexit would be preferable to risking the known harms of No Deal but I still feel it would be wise to check that it represented the will of the people and to give everyone the opportunity to have their say, not just MPs.

Without that final say, any decision will continue to cause division and acrimony long into the future.

If confirmed, Parliament could rapidly implement the defined deal or revoke Article 50 depending on the outcome and we could finally move on together.

We all want to be able to focus on issues other than Brexit.

12 comments

Well said. There are many outside the Westminster Bubble who support your sensible approach to ensuring the best way forward for the UK. Good luck, stay strong and keep going.
- Malc

Hear hear, As I have said in correspondence, please keep up your stand on this, although I recognise it has cost you. It seems crazy after over 45 years for Brexiteers to be panicking over taking a bit of extra time to get things right. I agree that whatever (if anything) TM and JC are able to come up with as a way forward, the final proposal on leaving must be put back to the people in a binary referendum with 'Remain' as the other option. (I was never keen on a referendum as the means for deciding this, but accept it is probably the only way to get out of the mess.) Best wishes,
- John

KEEP FIGHTING SARAH. THERE ARE MANY DISILLUSIONED PEOPLE ON ALL SIDES WHO WANT TO SEE A SENSIBLE, MODERATE, DEMOCRATIC OUTCOME TO THIS BRXIT FIASCO AND WE ARE RELYING ON GOOD, PRINCIPLED PEOPLE LIKE YOU TO STAND UP FOR US.
- JOHN KIDDEY

Surely the only referendum that could possibly satisfy democracy would be a vote on whatever deal comes up versus leave with no deal - I would be firmly in favour of this. Surely Remain was defeated in the first referendum? If our MP supported this choice, I would be much more sympathetic to her cause but alas, the only thing on offer is to remain in the EU against the wishes of the majority of the electorate at the time of the referendum.
- Patrick, Brixham

As usual your blog contains comments from 'remainers' that are refusing to accept the original referendum result. If the first one is not honoured then the second one has no legitimacy whatsoever. What we do need, regrettably, is a one year extension to our membership so that there is time to ditch the Trojan Horse, Theresa May, and renegotiate the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, which cannot be allowed to pass. As for the PM and Corbyn offering a so called 'confirmatory vote' on Theresa's rotten deal or a Customs Union that idea is RIGGED from the start! If the public have to decide on where we go from the shambles we are in then ALL of the options should be available to choose from, including Canada Plus and a managed 'no deal. Unless of course you subscribe to the theory that members of the public are too thick to make their own decisions, which I am sure many in the Westminster bubble firmly believe. I must admit to a deep sense of forboding when the referendum result was given to Parliament for implentation, but nothing could have prepared me for the unfolding deceipt and treachery that is being rolled out on a daily basis. Our Parliament is disfunctional, outdated and rotten to the core.
- David H

Have to say, yet again Dr Wollaston pursuing her own agenda. This is not what you were elected to do! The idea of a 2nd referendum (actually 3rd on this subject) is so null and void it's mind-bending. It basically says 17.4m ppl, of which 29,308 voted Leave in the South Hams, should be ignored because remainers want a 2nd go at it. Bear this in mind when you are running for re-election. Further more, what this 2yr exercise has proved is that MPs / civil servants have so little real word experience that they just can't negotiate a deal. To me, Dr Sarah, you have repeatedly ignored your constituent's wishes, the gravy train ends now. At most you've got 2yrs left in this job and unless you've got an exit strategy planned the real world is going to be a shock to you, including the shambles that you & the Labour party have left the NHS in.
- Neil Patterson-Azzopardi

Those of us who normally don't get involved in politics and are reserved and polite by nature for once were allowed to speak out and are now horrified by the aggressive devious behaviour of some undemocratic remainers seeking to deprive us of the clear decision to rule ourselves. For clarity everyone knows that means leaving EU control (borders, customs, market, money, justice). We are the majority in England and Wales according to this week's YouGov poll (without an agreed deal or extension on 12 April then 44% want a no-deal exit and 42% remain). So now is the time to combat those dishonourable changelings by speaking up, locally and nationally, by writing and voting and indeed taking to the streets (as before the Iraq war). Let us use the systems in place like the Government Petitions website to help the emerging and accelerating vote for the promised fallback position at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/248281 Since I moved here in 2010, I have come to admire Totnesians for their independence and their retention of traditional English values going back over the centuries. We should now see that extended to the whole of our once great country. Just like Blair and Charles, powerful or rich remainers and outsiders with vast vested interests (especially in London) have hired spin-doctors, PR firms and fake media outlets to disguise the truth, using highly emotive wording like cliff-edge, catastrophy, hard vs soft, crashing out, backed by an exchequer using its usual project fear threats of collapsing GDP and employment, with spiralling debt. Negotiation is hard but already the EU has (just) voted to confirm UK citizens will continue to benefit from 90-day visa-free travel to member states after a no-deal Brexit. WTOK !
- Jean Xavier

It's not Brexit that has left us divided. It's 45 years of European treaties that there was never popular consent for. Sarah for you there will be no more issues after Brexit. You are a liar, and have no future beyond the next election...which I expect to be soon.
- George, Paignton

It is amusing to see 'Slippery Sarah' talking of 'moving on together''. The opportunity for that was for all participents in the Referendum to accept the result; not too difficult unless you are selfish, privileged and consider yourself superior !
- John

Well here we go again! The UK is bending over backwards to accommodate the latest string of demands from the EU and what do we get in return? Arrogance, belligerance and complete intransigence that is humiliating this country all over the world. They know damn well that the Irish backstop is the main stumbling block and yet they steadfastly refuse to do anything about that. If their written assurances about the 'temporary' nature of the backstop are worth anything why don't they include them in the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement? The answer is their assurances are WORTHLESS and their sole objective is to force Theresa May's lousy agreement on us so that we can be well and truly screwed during any future trade talks. Theresa May has to go immediately and be replaced by someone that is up to the job. This total shambles cannot be allowed to continue any longer!
- David H

"Good to know Dr Sarah you are still "respecting the result of the referendum" Does this mean that if I came to you as a patient you would be "respecting my right to privacy" by publishing my personal details in the Sun? Only asking.
- Martin Beagley

Why would anyone think Dr. Wollaston reads these comments? But on the off-chance... You said, ...It would lead to such serious real-world harms both locally and nationally that I could never support it. It would mean knowingly and deliberately voting to make this community poorer and for many of my constituents to lose their jobs and livelihoods. I won't don't that... What an utter disgrace. You have absolutely no insight into your supposed alarmist and dystopian future. The option to leave or remain was a UK vote, not a constituency vote. As an MP, in this matter you should be acting on behalf of the majority, not traitorously following your own agenda. Don't be misled: we've all seen through you.
- John, Brixham

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