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BREXIT - an open letter to Sir Paul Beresford MP for Mole Valley

December 11, 2018 2:31 PM

Dear Sir Paul,

Paul Kennedy headshot

Paul Kennedy

In the 23rd June 2016 referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union, you and I campaigned for Britain to remain a fully autonomous voting member of the European Union with all the influence, economic and cultural benefits, security, environmental safeguards and personal freedoms we now enjoy. The majority of Mole Valley residents agreed with us, voting for Remain by 53% to 47% in Mole Valley District and 56% to 44% in Guildford Borough, to say nothing of the thousands of young people and EU citizens living here who were denied a vote.

Sadly, the referendum result across the country was inconclusive with a majority of less than 52% to 48% expressing a preference for Leave, but with sizeable majorities for Remain in areas with most at stake like London, Scotland, Northern Ireland and of course Gibraltar where 96% of voters backed Remain. Against that background it was right that the Government should seek to negotiate a better deal with our European partners which could command the support of a larger percentage of the population than the 16 million plus who voted Remain in 2016.

However, it must be clear to even the most loyal of Conservative MPs that the Government's proposed Brexit deal fails that test. The Government's own figures show the deal outlined in the Chequers plan will make us permanently 3.9% worse off than if we were to remain in the European Union. And the Attorney-General's legal advice is that Britain faces many years of "protracted and repeated rounds of negotiations", from a position of considerable disadvantage, before we can expect a permanent deal on which businesses can plan their investments, and families and individuals can plan their lives.

We live in a dangerous world, with Putin's Russia looking to exploit divisions in Europe, and Trump's America proving itself an unreliable ally in trade, security and the environment. Is this really the right time, as your colleague East Surrey MP Sam Gyimah put it when resigning over Britain's humiliating exit from the Galileo Space Project, for Britain to have "surrendered our voice, our vote and our veto" over the single market rules the Government is committing us to follow in perpetuity? Meanwhile none of the promised "opportunities" from Brexit have even been identified let alone realised. No wonder prominent Leave campaigners such as Boris Johnson admit that the proposed deal could well be worse than the full EU membership they campaigned so hard against.

Against this background, I am asking you, begging you, to put party loyalty aside and instead put the national interest and the interests of your own constituents first. Reject this dreadful deal that nobody has so far voted for, and support the multi-party campaign for a People's Vote on whatever Brexit deal (or deals) the Government wishes to put forward against what many opinion polls are indicating is now a substantial majority support for retaining our full EU membership and all the advantages that go with it. With the turnover in the electorate since 2016 now considerably larger than the original majority for Leave, democracy demands no less.

That is not to say we should be satisfied with the European Union treaties as they are. With a new EU budget about to be negotiated, Britain has a huge opportunity to wield our veto in order to ensure that the European Union is reformed and improved in the interests of Britain and the rest of Europe as a whole. However, we need to be negotiating from a position of strength, as a fully voting member, not as a vassal state trapped in a self-defeating backstop of our own devising.

Yours sincerely

Paul Kennedy