DAYS after Wokingham shoppers once again expressed their frustration with the Prime Minister’s handling of Brexit, one of the borough’s four MPs has said her refusal to meet with him is “shocking”.
Dr Phillip Lee, whose Bracknell constituency includes parts of Wokingham Without and Finchampstead, vote to Maidenhead MP Theresa May accusing her of “entrenching divisions in the Conservative family” and not “acting in the national interest”.
The letter was sent in his capacity as chair of Right To Vote, a Conservative-backed campaign for a People’s Vote on Brexit deal.
Dr Lee is an ardent remainer and is campaigning to stay in the European Union.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, he added: “Regardless of your view of the rights and wrongs of Brexit, it is painfully apparent to everyone that the UK is not ready to leave on March 29. If you had agreed to meet, we would have stressed the need to take no deal off the table, take some time out and consider what the best course of action for our country now is – a view shared by many in the Cabinet, Government and country.”
Earlier this week, a group of Labour MPs left the party to launch the Independent Group. Today three Conservative MPs joined them.
Mrs May said: “I am saddened by this decision – these are people who have given dedicated service to our party over many years, and I thank them for it.
“Of course, the UK’s membership of the EU has been a source of disagreement both in our party and our country for a long time. Ending that membership after four decades was never going to be easy.
“But by delivering on our manifesto commitment and implementing the decision of the British people we are doing the right thing for our country. And in doing so, we can move forward together towards a brighter future.
“I am determined that under my leadership the Conservative Party will always offer the decent, moderate and patriotic politics that the people of this country deserve.”
Writing in his blog, Sir John Redwood noted: “[These MPs] were wishing to annex the idea of democracy to themselves, but would have some problem in explaining why they reject the biggest vote in our history when the people answered the question Leave or Remain on promise of Parliament implementing the decision.”
He added: “The Independent Group wisely avoided making Brexit the main point of their break from Labour, as they would be putting themselves in a difficult and unpopular position if that is their main grudge. They were after all willing to stand for election on a pro Brexit ticket in 2017.”
But Sir John’s views are at odds with his constituents. Wokingham borough, like Reading borough and West Berkshire, voted to remain in the 2016 referendum and since then the Berkshire In Europe group – and pan-political organisation – took to the streets again on Saturday to ask the views of shoppers.
Although a snap poll, it nonetheless once again showed that residents are unhappy with the way in which Brexit is going.
The group ran out of stickers for its Brexitometer chart, a series of questions about the March 29 decision to leave the European Union.
Only one person backed Theresa May’s Brexit deal, with the vast majority against it. Only a handful of respondents back no deal, while the majority were against it.
Most people back delaying the leave date of March 29 – known as Article 50 – and a similar response didn’t want to leave the EU and risk breaking up the United Kingdom.
Most people felt that the EU had negotiated fairly, backed automatically remaining in the European Union and also, in the final question, supported a second referendum.
Vanessa Rogers said: “As usual, our Brexitometer shows the overwhelming support by the Wokingham residents who took part to remain in the EU, as well as having a second referendum with an option to remain, as is the public’s democratic right. In David Davis’ own words, ‘if a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy’.
“The mood on the streets is one of utter frustration with the way that the Government is handling the Brexit negotiations.
“Nobody wants a disastrous no deal scenario (except one person on our Brexitometer!). In a second referendum, of course, those who still want to leave despite and in view of all the evidence, will have their democratic right to vote leave once again. At least this time, a referendum can be decided on the truth. Our own MP’s words ‘Getting out of the EU can be quick and easy – the UK holds most of the cards in any negotiations’ , have not stood the test of time, nor the test of negotiation.”
Now the group is focused on gaining support for a People’s March on Saturday, March 23.
Ms Rogers added: “We need this march to be the biggest ever in the hope that our shambolic government will use that as a mandate for the people of this country to have another chance to make the final decision on what is, after all, their future and break this damaging political impasse.”