The one thing an MP gets in plentiful amount is people’s opinions. Brexit has resulted in a splurge of guidance for me on how the Government should manage the coming weeks, months and years in response to the referendum in June. The local Liberal Democrats seem to want me to ignore the result altogether and have another referendum. This doesn’t seem very liberal or democratic. Others say that I should only support a solution that sees Britain cut loose from the single market. Anything less, they say, is a “betrayal” of what the country voted for. They appear to link having access to the single market as somehow watering down an exit from the EU. Presumably such people also think British companies having to apply US standards for goods they want to export to the US is somehow selling our sovereignty down the river. Many call for some sort of tariff-free arrangement, or “soft Brexit”. Me? I want a smart Brexit. One that disadvantages my constituents the least while respecting the decision taken by the electorate in a popular vote. And yes folks, that won’t be easy.
Xtrac is an award-winning engineering company in Thatcham that employs around 400 people and exports 70% of what it makes to countries in the EU. It needs Britain to be part of a customs union and preferably a tariff-free trading union. Several thousand of my constituents work in financial services. They need Britain to continue to enjoy the passporting rules that allow financial services companies to operate across borders without separate authorisations. I could go on to give many examples of people I represent who are concerned at how the forthcoming negotiations will proceed. Any job lost because we get it wrong is a personal calamity for those affected and their family.
But just one more point: there are some who want the Government to set out every nuance and iteration of the UK negotiating strategy. I have the scars on my back of many hours of negotiating in Brussels and I know if you want to succeed you do not set out your negotiating position for all to see. So the last thing we should want is a running commentary.