There are two reasons why I first got involved in politics and wanted to serve in public life, to hopefully leave my community in a better state than I found it and to see the UK leave the EU. Therefore I’m delighted that the community in Crawley joined with me last year in backing Brexit – by 58 percent in fact.
Of course, just over ten months later I’m now engaged in another campaign, seeking re-election as Crawley’s MP, and whilst this isn’t a re-run of the referendum debate, the outcome will determine the kind of Brexit we get or even the possibility of Brexit not being delivered at all.
As MP and now a candidate, engaging with people across Crawley there are obviously many issues that, apart from Brexit, are raised; taxes, public services, the local environment, housing, immigration - understandably enduring subjects – but there is also a recognition that our leaving the EU is essential to better delivery of domestic priorities too.
Unlike those who are disdainful of the majority’s decision to leave, people here understand that there is no such thing as EU money but it is their hard-earned tax-payers money; that if we don’t have to send it anymore to an inefficient, bureaucratic and wasteful Brussels system we can then use those resources for national consumption. Individuals I meet also quite understand that the EU had become increasingly undemocratic, centralising and inward looking to the detriment, not in some abstract way to our national tradition of liberty but in a very real way of limiting our country’s horizons.
Far from what some metropolitan elite media outlets and politicians would have us believe, in Crawley and across the country, the appetite for cleanly and comprehensively leaving the EU, efficiently as well as successfully, is a priority that has grown, not diminished since last June.
With Gatwick Airport and many multi-national companies based in the constituency, some wonder why Crawley wasn’t more a Remain area but they are often the same individuals who mistake the EU for being internationalist – it isn’t.
True, routes from Gatwick comprehensively serve Europe but more now connect us with a world network of destinations from emerging Asian markets to North American cities. For example, Norwegian Airlines – a non-EU, European carrier – is significantly expanding direct intercontinental connections. In a way this exemplifies my belief about Britain’s position in the world, as an island trading nation, with unique global links – a conduit between our proximity to Europe and our international relationships built up over centuries.
The message from Crawley is overwhelmingly that Brexit much be achieved. A year ago the then administration issued a (taxpayer funded) booklet to every household across the UK explaining why it thought we should stay in the EU and, crucially, infamously even, what it saw as the dire consequences of leaving the bloc, along with the single market and customs union. People took the advice and a majority elected for Brexit – indeed by more votes than for any poll ever in British history.
Electing for Brexit is a process that must now be honoured and completed but that is in the balance. At the Thursday June 8th General Election the choice is stark; a clear plan with a strong and stable future from Theresa May and the Conservatives or the unwilling doubts of the left being pursued by Labour, the nationalists and so called Liberal Democrats.
The decision and our direction is in the hands of the British people – I trust their judgement.