Newbury’s MP, Richard Benyon, has responded to a letter sent by the Chair of West Berkshire Liberal Democrats. The letter asked him to support a House of Lords amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill calling for a second referendum on leaving the EU.
In his reply Richard stated his support for the line taken by the Liberal Democrat leader, Vince Cable, who said to his party conference in 2016, that it is “disrespectful” to voters and “politically counter-productive” to call for a second vote. Richard also stated his support for the words of the former Liberal Democrat leader, Paddy Ashdown who, during the referendum campaign, said, “Anyone who says we need a second referendum does not believe in democracy. We cannot run a democratic system unless we respect the democratic will of the people.”
Like most Liberal Democrats, Richard campaigned to remain in the EU but unlike them he feels that we have to recognise the result of a national referendum. Declaring his confusion at the Liberal Democrats “180 degree U turn” in calling for a second referendum, Richard challenged the Liberal Democrats saying, “If the referendum result had gone the other way and ‘leave’ voters were now calling for a repeat referendum would you follow the same argument? I very much doubt it.”
Richard has been extremely active in improving the EU (Withdrawal) Bill which returned to the House of Commons on Tuesday 12th June. He is really pleased with the announcement that Ministers are supporting a revised wording of one of the Lords amendments relating to the protection of the environment. Richard said, “This is an example of Parliament doing its job of scrutinising legislation. With my colleagues Oliver Letwin and Zac Goldsmith we have spent many hours in meetings with Ministers, civil servants, green NGOs and others and now have measures in the Bill which meet our concerns and will have a lasting benefit to the improvement of all parts of our natural heritage.”