My fellow MPs and I sanctioned no such thing but hardline Leavers are distorting the truthby Antoinette Sandbach / August 6, 2019 / Leave a comment
The most remarkable aspect of Brexit is the hardening of public and political opinion, on both sides. Whereas once parliament could unite to support the bill giving the government the power to invoke Article 50 by 498 votes to 114, now MPs cannot unite around a single position except that no deal is unacceptable.
As one of those 498, I look on with horror at how my vote to put the UK on the road to leaving with a deal has been warped and twisted by a tiny minority of no dealers, into the suggestion that a majority of MPs backed a no-deal Brexit and that therefore it is a legitimate option to pursue.
Contrary to what some may think, MPs put a lot of thought into how to vote, especially on issues as weighty as Brexit. The image of backbench MPs as “lobby-fodder,” thoughtlessly trotting off to vote for whatever the leader tells them, is woefully inaccurate.
So, when I voted to give the government the power to trigger Article 50, I was torn between several competing hopes and fears. I was, and remain, of the view that the referendum result must be delivered, but that security cooperation with the EU must be maintained and that—to quote my remarks in the debate—“we must negotiate the best possible deal for our economy.”
The argument about the damage a no-deal Brexit will do is already well rehearsed. Nobody who thinks that no deal will be a walk in the park can be convinced by another statistic or study showing the opposite. As such, I will not repeat those arguments here. However, it is deceitful to suggest that because 498 MPs voted for the bill, that indicates support for a WTO Brexit.
In fact, I shared the concerns of Dominic Cummings, the former campaign director of Vote Leave now in No 10, that triggering Article 50 too quickly would be, in his words “like putting a gun in your mouth and pulling the trigger.” However, I weighed this against the EU’s refusal to commence even informal negotiations until we pressed “go,” and the reassurances I received that “of course” we would leave with a deal and the government had a plan to deliver one within the two-year timeframe.
My constituents sent me to Westminster to…