My Week 02/02/2017
This week I will be voting for the ‘Article 50’ Bill which will trigger the formal process by which the UK will leave the EU.
In the referendum my Arundel & South Downs constituents split evenly down the middle on the issue, half voting to Remain and half voting to Leave.
Not surprisingly, I have had a huge number of e-mails from people on both sides of the argument asking me to vote for or against the Bill.
Some have suggested that the referendum was advisory, and that MPs should therefore vote with their conscience on the issue. That may technically be true, but morally the referendum must be taken as binding.
MPs agreed that the people should decide, and it was assumed by everyone that the referendum decision would be implemented. The majority was narrow, but the vote was decisive. So I believe my duty is now to implement that decision.
I voted to Remain and I have not changed my mind about the issue, but now the task to is to achieve the best possible new arrangement for Britain, guided not by ideology but by what is in our national interest.
In particular, I think we must guard against the idea that we can simply pivot away from the continent and our largest market and instead deal only with new partners far away across oceans.
This week Britain was embarrassed by the actions of President Trump in imposing travel bans on people from certain countries.
I believe that his policy is divisive, repulsive and wrong, and it is important for Britain to make our strong objections to it clear.
Equally, this country’s alliance with the United States is vitally important. On defence, intelligence and security, we work more closely together than any other two countries in the world.
The commitment which the President gave to NATO after he met the Prime Minister was an example of why we must maintain that special relationship, even where we need to be candid about our concerns.
If the debate about Britain’s new place in the world is now to move forward sensibly, we need to reject the false idea that Britain has to choose between Europe and the rest of the world.
Our strategic interest lies in maintaining the strongest possible links with both Europe and the United States, consistent with the referendum decision that we leave the EU. We should not and do not have to choose between the two.