In the EU Referendum the Lancaster District voted to leave. The turnout was 72.6% with 37,309 (51.1%) votes in favour of leaving the EU and 35,732 (48.9%) for remaining, which is remarkably similar to the National vote overall, 51.89% and 48.11% respectively.
The Governments White Paper, following the Chequers weekend has been published and as far as I am concerned it does not provide a genuine Leave scenario.
It’s worth recalling what brought the Referendum into being.
It is popular for politicians to claim that we did not know what Leaving would imply. In fact the issue was very simple and straight forward. David Cameron negotiated a deal with the EU. He put that deal to the House of Commons who voted to ask the country if they accepted the deal or wanted to leave the EU as an alternative. Ergo, if the people did not accept the Cameron deal then we would leave the EU.
The Government circulated the details of the agreement to every home in the country and chose not to touch on the issue of what would happen if we did not accept the deal. The fault for any shortfall in information about leaving falls purely on the shoulders of the Government.
Having read the White Paper from end to end, and being disenchanted I wrote to our MP, David Morris, as follows:
Dear Mr Morris,
For the purpose of clarity can I advise you that, as one of those that voted for you at the last two elections, I am totally opposed to the Governments White Paper on Brexit.
At the 1975 Referendum I was Chairman of the Cumbria Liberal Party and campaigned, with Willie Whitelaw in support of joining the EEC.
The EU, as it is currently constituted, is a massive remove from the concept that we expounded in 1975, in many significant areas but particularly in respect of VAT.
David Morris replied to me as follows:
Dear Mr Keegan,
Thank you for contacting me about the agreement reached at Chequers on the UK’s future relationship with the EU. I strongly believe that the Prime Minister’s proposals represent a realistic and practical vision that delivers the referendum decision in full.
The UK will leave the EU, including the Single Market and the Customs Union on 29 March 2019. As we leave the EU, free movement and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice will no longer apply and the days of sending vast sums of money to Brussels every year are over for good. We will also leave the Common Agriculture Policy and the Commons Fisheries Policy and we will once again be able to strike our own trade deals. We will be in control of our own trade policy and be free to trade with the rest of the World. The European Union has held us back from being able to trade with new partners but Brexit opens up whole new markets and opportunities.
The Chequers agreement provides a commitment for the UK to maintain a common rule book on industrial goods and agricultural products so that we have a free trade area with the EU, but it will be Parliament that has a final say on any new rules or regulations. These rules have been relatively stable since the 1980s and the Government has always been clear that UK standards should be as high, if not higher, than those of the EU and so I believe that having a common rule book as a minimum is a reasonable proposal.
Having common rules on goods, as well as a new business friendly customs model, will also ensure that there is no hard border in Northern Ireland or any border down the Irish Sea and that the integrity of our precious United Kingdom is safeguarded.
The EU, in contrast, had effectively proposed to keep Northern Ireland in the Customs Union and parts of the Single Market. The Prime Minister had always been clear that such a move, damaging the integrity of the UK, was completely unacceptable. The EU’s other option would have been for all of the UK to stay in the European Economic Area and the Customs Union, keeping free movement and accepting all EU laws. This was also unacceptable.
And after we leave, we will want to continue working with the EU on security issues while having an independent foreign and defence policy.
Immigration has been a huge issue, this paper allows us to control our borders by ending free movement of people. This allows us to set our immigration policy to one which suits the needs of our Country and our Industry. It also allows us to prioritise immigration in certain areas to prioritise professions which are needed in the Country like doctors and nurses, for example.
Brexit is about giving the Country the freedom it needs to determine its own destiny. I think we are in a hugely exciting time in the UK and I look forward to working on the trade deals with new markets to bring even more prosperity to Morecambe and Lunesdale
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
David Morris MP
In my view David’s very first paragraph shows that he either hasn’t read the White Paper, or is repeating parrot fashion, a position paper provided to him by his Whips, or other party officials. As a result I responded as follows:
Dear Mr Morris,
Many thanks for your email, copy below.
Your email is clearly the equivalent of a campaign message provided to you by either civil servants or Party whips, and does not reflect a reasoned consideration taken by yourself, personally, following consideration of the White Paper and consultation with your constituency.
Having spent considerable time reading the 06 July Statement, then the102 pages (only 94 pages of actual content) of the White Paper Cm 9593, I am afraid that “your” analysis falls short of my understanding of what is in fact achievable under the White Paper and your position on it falls short of reality.
Certainly it does not enable us to leave the EU, which is what I personally voted for. As an example the common rule book is totally unacceptable. Personally, if the EU’s belligerence means that there will be a hard border between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, then that will be the EU’s fault.
I would draw to your attention the fact that, despite the dissembling of what the Referendum was all about, there is one fact that commentators choose to disregard. That fact is that – the Government put to the people, in a referendum, their recommendations that the people either vote to accept the agreement that PM David Cameron had negotiated with the EU (the YES vote) or reject the agreement and leave the EU (the NO vote).
That was the choice we were given. The Government did not say that if we voted NO, but in later negotiations they could not achieve certain “deals” then we would not leave fully, but remain under ongoing obligations to the EU.
The White Paper leaves us under obligations to the EU. This is unacceptable to me.
I would ask you to make it clear to your Government that we are now in a position where preparing to leave without a deal should be their priority. The EU will only endeavour to water down the already unacceptable position the Government has taken. I do not believe that the EU will ever agree to accede to what the people voted for. Therefore we should proceed on the basis that an acceptable deal is unachievable.
This would bring immediate clarity to the nation, industry and our trading partners in other parts of the world and enable the country to press ahead with plans for future trade, world wide.
I would be interested to hear the views of others in the Lune Valley.