Ranil Jayawardena MP—Opinion Piece December 2018

I’m delighted to be writing the first in a new series of monthly columns on my work as the Member of Parliament for North East Hampshire, which covers parts of Hart, like Fleet and some of Yateley, and parts of Basingstoke and Deane too. Because I grew up here—and my children are growing up here—I genuinely believe in our area and making it better tomorrow than it is today.

I wanted to provide an up-to-date update on Brexit, though—as we’ve seen with the Prime Minister’s recent decision to delay the vote to seek better EU reassurances on ‘the backstop’—a week is a long time in politics!

Her action shows her recognition of the concerns that I and many others have expressed. I happen to agree with the vast majority of constituents, both ‘remain’ and ‘leave’ voters, who contacted me urging me to vote against the ‘deal’. This ‘deal’ holds us back from reaping the benefits of Brexit, while relinquishing any benefits of the EU. This ‘deal’ is not right for Britain. (For context, it is fair to call the 2016 referendum result in our constituency a ‘dead heat’, as Hart voted to remain but Basingstoke and Deane voted to leave.)

I have been clear—ever since the referendum—that any deal must deliver a good and fair Brexit; good for those with close family or business links to the EU, but fair to those who voted to leave also—taking back control of our laws, our borders and our money. This ‘deal’ does not do that. First, it immediately hands the EU our ace card—£39 billion—with nothing guaranteed in return. Second, it leaves the European Court of Justice in charge of the agreement—and we lose any say in drafting EU laws. Third, the so-called ‘backstop’ customs union locks us out of new international trade deals and we cannot choose to leave it without EU approval.

I know that some want to agree this ‘deal’ to just move on, to guarantee we avoid ‘no deal’ or out of loyalty to the Prime Minister. But to vote without careful consideration for the consequences, and without the negotiating position that “no deal is better than a bad deal”, would be a dereliction of duty. It is important for every Member to act in good conscience; principle should come before party politics.

Britain elects MPs to serve the nation and the principles set out by Edmund Burke in 1774 remain sound today—“Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment.”—so, whilst I will always listen to local people, as I believe this is important, it is right to continue to use my judgement in serving North East Hampshire and our country too.

Let me be clear: I want to secure a deal with the EU. I continue to believe this is possible and I will do what I can to make it happen. I believe that Britain has an amazing opportunity to seize a new role in the world, as the beacon of free trade, but to do that we need to be more agile—in control of our own destiny, ready to adapt in a changing world—to make sure that our best days lie ahead.

One final word on the future: it’s all about the future. I’m in politics for the next generation; if we want our children to have better lives tomorrow than we have today, we must solidify our commitment to continued economic growth. I owe it to my daughter’s generation to get Brexit right, not agree the first ‘deal’ that comes this way.

Brexit isn’t the only show in town though. I will continue to work hard for all my constituents as their local Member of Parliament. If you have thoughts on the above, or anything else, I would love to hear from you, so do get in touch: Ranil@TellRanil.com. I’m happy to help and reply to each letter or email—though this can sometimes take time given how much correspondence I receive.

Politics aside, may I wish you and those you love a happy and peaceful Christmas.