I’m not hugely political, but I took the time to write to my MP yesterday to convey my concerns about this shambles of a situation. Hopefully the new deadlines established last night will concentrate minds next week.
Dear Steve McCabe
I am writing to you as my local MP to urge for your support in resolving the Brexit crisis which increasingly appears to be becoming an existential threat to the system of parliamentary democracy.
In 2016, I voted Remain because I believe that the UK’s continued membership of the EU is the best way for an advanced, mature, sovereign nation to optimise its international reach through a relationship based on cooperation and shared values and objectives.
We are now eight days away from the withdrawal deadline of 29th March, with no deal, no consensus, and no coherent leadership from either the Government or, it must be said, from the Opposition. We hear empty platitudes from both sides of the House from those seemingly intent on pursuing narrow ideological lines and failing to engage on a level that has any chance of breaking the deadlock. I have been following developments in recent months and my disappointment in the lack of progress has been wholly over-ridden by my horror at the hostile and divisive rhetoric that has seeped into the debate. In a climate where far-right extremism seems to be arising from all quarters, this moment has the feeling of a turning point in how politics is conducted in the UK.
I watched some of the emergency debate yesterday afternoon and was impressed by the speeches from Justine Greening, Dominic Grieve, Hilary Benn and Liz Kendall, who all addressed – eloquently and persuasively – their concerns about the growing threats to parliamentary integrity. I agree with Liz Kendall’s statement that MPs are representatives, not delegates; elected to use their discretion and judgment to act in the best interests of the country, over and above any amorphous “will of the people,” or their own political parties.
In the context of a PM cynically directing public ire towards a Parliament already grappling with an impossible set of circumstances, and a Deputy Speaker having to issue safety advice to MPs, I urge you and your colleagues to step back from this spiralling crisis. This time-limited and pressure-cooker atmosphere is the worst context in which to make a decision with a decades-long impact.
None of the choices now on the table will be popular. Whatever happens next week, there will continue to be public anger, division, and recrimination. Putting that to one side, it is down to MPs to determine what course of action will be most beneficial to the short- and long-term prosperity of the UK. For my part, I have signed the online petition today to revoke Article 50. This has not been my position up until now; I actually (as a Remain voter) had some faith that Brexit would be negotiated with a measure of strategy and competence. This has evidently not happened, and time has now run out to make a success of any kind of exit.
With that in mind, I entreat you as my MP to take positive action by voting for the revocation of Article 50 next week. If there is then scope for a cross-party consensus to try and work out a way forward, Parliament can start to rebuild trust with the electorate. Leadership formulated on honesty, sincerity, and humility is now needed.
I know you will be receiving many of these emails, from across the political divide, but I hope you will take the time to consider my points, and appreciate the very real and widespread anxiety that this situation has caused. If you’ll forgive the Americanism: thank you for your service.