As Parliament prepares for another day of Brexit debates in a bid to unlock a way forward, Bracknell MP – and remainer – Dr Phillip Lee has express his concerns at the way in which alternative views are being handled by the Government.
Over the weekend, an online petition to revoke Article 50 – a law that would see us leave the European Union, currently on April 12 – passed the 6 million barrier, making it the most popular petition on the Government’s website.
Although it is due to be debated today, the Government has already announced that it would be ignoring the views of those signing it.
This decision has dismayed Dr Lee, whose Bracknell constituency includes parts of Finchampstead and Wokingham Without. It was also one of the few places in the Thames Valley to vote to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum, placing the MP at odds with his constituents.
Speaking to The Wokingham Paper, Dr Lee said: “I don’t think anyone expected the Government to change its mind on the back of the petition and suddenly announce that it would revoke Article 50.
“However, I do not think it should have dismissed the petition in such a cavalier manner. The Government is being pushed from pillar to post on Brexit, with the EU itself setting the agenda. If it really wishes to take back control then it would be wise to seriously consider the option of revocation in order to provide some breathing space and allow the country to decide whether it is still committed to the path set in June 2016.”
And Dr Lee also expressed his concerns over the news that the Prime Minister – neighbouring MP Theresa May – will stand aside ahead of the next stage of negotiations with the European Union. This offer to resign was made to the 1922 committee in Parliament last week, and is conditional on her Withdrawal Agreement being approved by Parliament. It has failed three times so far.
“I am disappointed with the Prime Minister’s announcement that she will stand down if her deal is passed,” Dr Lee said. “Both because I feel that, outside of Brexit, she has a positive agenda and vision for our country that would leave a significant legacy.
“But also because the manner of her going has brought out the baser instincts of some former Cabinet ministers, who would have now been prepared to vote for a deal that they know to be defective and bad for the country, simply because that would bring forward the date when they could seek the PM’s role for themselves.”
“I would like to give comfort by saying that the mood in the Commons is one of MPs coming together to seek compromise.
“Unfortunately, that is still not the case.
“However, I think that MPs are gradually coming round to the view that there can be no resolution without consulting the people on the final options available.
“It is significant that in the votes last Wednesday, when we considered a variety of options, the most widely supported was the one that called for any agreement to be placed before the public in a confirmatory vote.”