In 2016 I was proud to lead the Vote Leave EU membership referendum campaign in Crawley because I believe our country’s future relies on us being a global nation, utilising Britain’s unique world links and being a conduit to Europe given the UK’s close geographical proximity. This is what I want for my children’s future.
Furthermore, throughout my long political involvement and service in elected public office, I have always campaigned for our sovereign independence against the Treaty of Rome’s mission of ‘ever closer union’ which has led to an increasingly centralising, undemocratic and protectionist EU, against the interests of British people.
Despite the establishment’s might and resources campaigning for a remain vote, including spending over twice as much and using taxpayers’ money through the machinery of government, leave won by the largest number of votes ever in UK polling history. British common sense and an optimism rejected fear and negativity. In 2017 the referendum result was confirmed in a General Election where 589 of those MPs returned to Parliament did so on promises to deliver Brexit.
In 2017 and 2018, both Lisbon Treaty Article 50 notification to exit and the EU Withdrawal Act were passed with significant majorities in the House of Commons.
However, a largely remain-biased Government has regrettably seen Britain’s departure from the EU as a problem to be mitigated, rather than an opportunity to seize a global future internationally and a democratic rejuvenation domestically. Our advantage of the EU having a trade surplus with us and heavily relying on net UK subscriptions, as well as British security reliance, has slowly and meekly been fettered away during the negotiations.
With Britain’s position ceded, a remain-dominant Parliament, hypocritically contrary to many MPs’ manifesto promises, has taken advantage of the weak UK Government negotiating stance, steadily and increasingly successfully seeking to frustrate and even threaten Brexit altogether.
By law, the Prime Minister could have delivered Brexit on time, today – 29th March. With lack of will she has sadly sought further delay and uncertainty.
I have consistently said that I would not support a delay to extension day and I was proudly one of 105 MPs who voted this way on 27th March. However it is clear that the EU, and sadly a significant number of UK MPs, are seeking to take Brexit away from us.
Under duress, the invidious choice I now face as an individual MP, and given my views are a minority one in this remain-dominated Parliament, is either to risk Brexit being delivered altogether – and betray the majority democratic choice of 17.4 million electors – or accept a withdrawal agreement which, however poorly drafted, would at least mean we legally leave the EU before the summer and prevents a long extension, which in reality means Brexit lost.
I resent the choice presented to me, but more so to the British people. Whether engineered deliberately or by hapless leadership, it is a decision I must make. I choose, therefore, to see the UK’s EU exit legally delivered, uncertainty of long extension or no Brexit removed, and a chance for stronger direction as we go forward.
Henry Smith MP