Maintaining a successful Union requires taking back control like Vote Leave promised

Maintaining a successful Union requires taking back control like Vote Leave promised

by James Bundy
article from Friday 8, February, 2019

17.4 MILLION OF MY FELLOW BRITS voted to leave the European Union. It is the biggest mandate in the history of British politics and the message from the voters was clear. We voted to take back control of our borders, our money, our laws, our waters and our trade. Eighty per cent of voters then voted in the 2017 General Election for parties who stated that they would respect the result of the 2016 referendum. 

That is what makes the current situation we are in so terribly upsetting. The British public has been more than clear in more than one occasion, but we are getting ignored. A day doesn’t see to pass without more attempts by backbench politicians to delay, halt or dilute Brexit, harming parliamentary procedure along the way. 

These MPs claim the British people did not know what we voted for. They state that the referendum was a binary choice between leave and remain; therefore, a Brexit which keeps us in the institutions of the European Union would be acceptable. This is an insult to the British people, damaging our democracy and the opportunities that lie ahead. 

The Vote Leave campaign could not have been clearer. We wanted to take back control and to take back control we must leave the institutions of the European Union. One of the freedoms of the Single Market is freedom of movement; therefore, to take control of our borders we must leave the Single Market. The EU Customs Union results in the European Union negotiating trade deals on our behalf. To take back control of our trade we must leave the Customs Union. Membership of both the Single Market and Customs Union requires accepting jurisdiction from the European Court of Justice. We must leave the European Union to take back control of our laws. 

The vote to leave the European Union was a vote to leave the institutions of the European Union. Some parliamentarians have argued, however, that leaving these institutions would be extremely damaging to our United Kingdom. Not only is this argument wrong but it completely ignores the instructions of the British people. Leaving the European Union but remaining in the institutions is not taking back control but ceding control. We would have to accept EU rules and regulations but have no say. This is a worse position than we are currently in. 

That is the first of three key reasons why I am opposed to the backstop in the Prime Minister’s EU Withdrawal Agreement. But the backstop is worse than simply becoming a rule taker. We would be bound to these rules and regulations until a period of time when the European Union would allow us to leave. Our parliament would not be sovereignand that is what makes the EU Withdrawal Agreement worse than a Norway Deal. Norway’s arrangement, which is far from perfect, would at least make our parliament sovereign to the extent that if our parliament votes to leave an EU institution then we can without requiring permission from the EU. 

The overarching problem with the EU Withdrawal Agreement is the impact on our United Kingdom. Scottish Nationalism has risen due to the SNP’s successful political campaigning which has made Scots feel distant from Westminster. This feeling of disengagement will only become worse if Westminster cannot act due to Brussels’ controls. For our United Kingdom to survive and prosper, we cannot play into the hands of the nationalists. Adopting the backstop plays into the hands of the nationalists and that is why I can never support the backstop as a British unionist. 

As the Prime Minister has always said, no deal is better than a bad deal. A good deal is better than no deal, however, and I still hope that a good deal can be reached. With time running short this may not happen and no deal is then the only choice. Any extension or revoking of Article 50 would be unacceptable. It would break the trust with the British voters who believe that we are leaving the European Union on the 29th March. It would also tell the EU that we believe that a horrendous deal is better than no deal, ruining any incentive for them to give us a good deal later.

There are various paths we as a country could go down in the weeks ahead. Some would be a compromise I would be willing to swallow but others would be disastrous for our country, our democracy and our constitution. Any deal that removes the sovereignty of our parliament in the long-term must be rejected. Any deal that threatens the integrity of our United Kingdom must be rejected. Any moves to extend or revoke Article 50 must be rejected. 

Our United Kingdom has a proud history. We have been through national crises on a much larger scale than this and have come through them stronger and ultimately more prosperous. The success of our union is because at times of crisis we come together and do what is pragmatic. Ideologies are put aside, and the national interest is put first. That is what we must do over the next few weeks.

James Bundy is a Conservative youth activist writing in a personal capacity.

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