Compromise in a time of crisis

No one following events in Westminster over the last weeks and months would deny that we are in a moment of crisis. That is why MPs have been engaged in a process of indicating their preferences in terms of Brexit options going forward over two sessions, the first last Wednesday and again last night. This is, I believe, a sincere attempt to break the deadlock.

These ‘indicative votes’ were intended to establish what Parliament might consider an acceptable outcome. It is a great pity that we have waited so long to embark upon this essential process and represents a failure of Government. Theresa May should have reached out to establish a consensus before Article 50 was invoked in March 2017.

A little over half of all those who voted in the referendum in Bedford & Kempston did so in favour of leaving the EU. I am always mindful of that fact, but the problem with the referendum of 2016 was that it did not give anyone the option of indicating how they wanted to leave the EU. It is clear from the correspondence that I am receiving from constituents that leaving the EU means a lot of different things to different people. Some have changed their mind. That fundamental problem of interpreting the vote is something that all MPs have been grappling with, and as we’ve approached the withdrawal date, matters have come to a head. Those differences of opinion about what ‘leave’ means are now reflected in Parliament. I know that my constituents are exhausted with the process and just want the uncertainty to stop.

No deal is not a realistic option. Just today we learned from a leaked letter to Government from the UK’s top civil servant how bad a no deal Brexit would be for Britain: bad because food supplies and standards would be at risk and food prices would rise, bad because jobs and livelihoods would be lost and worker’s rights would be compromised, bad because it risks the fragmentation of the UK and bad because it would be a terrible outcome for our NHS and security.

For me, this process is now about being open to compromise – looking carefully at what is realistic. Whilst all of the options presented for consideration last night have positive aspects, they also have drawbacks. I am aware that there is no outcome that will please everyone, but intransigence is not an option.

It is the PM’s steadfast refusal to adopt a sensible compromise approach to negotiations that has led us to this crisis – So I cast my votes yesterday as follows:

Customs Union – Seeking a UK Wide Customs union with the EU – For

Common Market 2.0 – Remaining in the Common Market and seeking a temporary customs union with the EU – For

Confirmatory Referendum – Holding a public vote to confirm any withdrawal agreement agreed by Parliament – For

Parliamentary Supremacy – Power for MPs to block leaving with no deal, cancelling Brexit if the EU won’t grant a further extension beyond 12 April – For

The first two options represent to me a pragmatic compromise on Brexit – softer options that would minimise the negative economic impact of leaving whilst still allowing the UK many of the freedoms that would not be permitted as a member of the European Union. I am aware that both options would not represent the clean break that many leavers would like to see. I have some reservations about both, but I have never been in favour of leaving without a deal and I do not consider Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement represents a good deal. I am persuaded therefore that a Brexit pursued in terms of either of these models would be broadly acceptable to me.

This brings me to my decision to support a confirmatory referendum. I have always had concerns about going back to the people on this issue, and I am aware that many people will be unhappy about that option. But I also think that opinion is very divided on the issue of how we should proceed. Parliament seems unable to decide so asking the electorate to confirm what they think about whatever deal is finally decided upon might be the best thing to do.

Finally, I voted for the motion to revoke Article 50 if the EU will not extend beyond the 12th April. The Brexit negotiation process has not delivered an acceptable outcome for Britain, and I do not think that is in dispute. The process of extending the leave date without any clear idea of where we are headed, runs the very real risk of an accidental ‘No Deal’, and leaving without any deal in place is something that I have already said that I cannot support, and indeed will actively resist. I realise that some people in my constituency would like this to be the outcome but as a representative not a delegate, I have to act in a way I believe to be in the best interests of all of the people that I have been elected to serve. If Article 50 were to be revoked, there is nothing to say that it could not be invoked again at a later date if agreement could be reached on how our departure from the EU could be achieved.

Unfortunately, none of the options gained a majority. These are complex arguments that I have tried to condense into a relatively brief post. I appreciate that I may not have covered everything to the satisfaction of all of the people reading this, but if you are a constituent and would like to email me for more details, I will be happy to provide a more comprehensive response. Please be mindful that my office is handling an unprecedented volume of email correspondence, so it may take a little while.

11 thoughts on “Compromise in a time of crisis

  1. Thank you Mr Yasin, for your thoughtful and well considered opinion – I am glad there are at least some level headed and intelligent politicians like you in this Westminster full of incompetents.

  2. I appreciate this pragmatic approach to the issues we face. I believe consultation with all parties: the public, the EU, Business and non-Business, was and is essential here. We should not have embarked on such a project (nor Article 50) without a set of plans that included preferred options as well as viable backup options. Many thanks for working to help find a way through.

  3. Irespective what I voted for the people voted to leave the european union, it was David Cammerons vote to the people.both sides of the house agreed to uphold the people’s decision. Therefore unfortunately I can not vote for your party or the conservatives or dup. Which all parties are responsible for disgracing the Union Jack and my Sovereign.

  4. Thank you for representing common sense, please keep fighting for a way for us to avoid the disaster that is Brexit!

  5. Thank you Yasin for your post and the informative way you have put the points.

    Yes, it’s obvious the country is still divided on this matter.

    Yes, it’s obvious that Parliament is likewise divided on the matter as MPs are attempting to balance their own personal views with their duty as MPs to
    1) act in the interest of the country first and foremost – that includes those that have no vote at all rather than just those that voted leave or remain in the referendum or chose not to vote at all
    2) represent the interests of all constituents, regardless of voting habit, age, ability etc

    Large parts of the constituents of each and every constituency are not eligible to vote in General Elections or, by inference, national referenda, but in a No of cases, have lived and worked in this country for years/decades and worked and paid their taxes appropriately. Yet, they had no vote as they were not UK Citizens – in many circumstances as their home nations do not allow dual nationality (e.g. Austria and Germany)

    The referendum in 2016 was flawed on a No of counts.

    I cannot see how we, as the UK, can make such a momentous decision without further talks and some form of consensus in Parliament and then reference back to the electorate to agree what, if anything, is agreed.

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