MPs must fo­cus and de­liver the prize for the sake of democ­racy

The Sunday Telegraph - - Countdown to Brexit - By Stephen Bar­clay Stephen Bar­clay is the Brexit Sec­re­tary and MP for North East Cam­bridgeshire

There can be no deny­ing that last week’s events in Par­lia­ment have changed things. We have been shown, in the stark­est terms yet, that there are plenty of peo­ple who want to thwart Brexit.

On Wed­nes­day in the House of Com­mons we saw be­gin­nings of this break­ing out into the open.

And its emer­gence should unite those of us who voted Leave in our de­ter­mi­na­tion to get Brexit over the line. It should fo­cus Brexit-sup­port­ing MPs’ minds next week, be­cause the pos­si­bil­ity of los­ing the prize we all fought for is now very real. As the pro­tec­tors of our democ­racy, we sim­ply can­not al­low this to hap­pen.

And while it’s clear what some of my fel­low MPs don’t want, there is no con­sen­sus around any vi­able al­ter­na­tive. Par­lia­ment has to be for some­thing. It is not good enough to sim­ply say what it is against. This deal de­liv­ers on Brexit. We are end­ing free move­ment, end­ing pay­ments to the EU, and end­ing the ju­ris­dic­tion of the Euro­pean Court.

As I have pre­vi­ously said in the House, we have had to make com­pro­mises along the way to se­cure the big­ger prize of a deal. It’s not per­fect, but it’s a good deal, which re­spects the ref­er­en­dum re­sult.

And can we even be sure that any of the al­ter­na­tives that have been pro­posed would get a con­sen­sus in Par­lia­ment? I cer­tainly don’t think so.

The sim­ple fact re­mains that the only way to guar­an­tee that Brexit will go ahead is for MPs to vote for the Prime Min­is­ter’s deal on Tuesday.

The ques­tion for those who op­pose the Prime Min­is­ter’s deal is this: if you don’t like the deal, what is your pre­ferred op­tion?

Do you want to paral­yse the Brexit process in the hope that some­thing bet­ter comes along? Are you push­ing for a second ref­er­en­dum, po­ten­tially lead­ing to no Brexit at all and a de­mo­li­tion of the vot­ers’ trust in democ­racy, the like of which we’ve never pre­vi­ously seen? Do you be­lieve that there’s a cred­i­ble sce­nario in which we em­bark on a rene­go­ti­a­tion in two months – de­spite the EU hav­ing ruled that out – that pro­duces the per­fect deal out of nowhere, like a rab­bit out of a hat? Or do you want to roll the dice and go for no deal and risk Par­lia­ment bring­ing the whole process crash­ing down?

These op­tions are all ei­ther un­de­sir­able or un­achiev­able but the very worst of them all would be a push for a second ref­er­en­dum. That would be an af­front to democ­racy.

And there may be those read­ing this who be­lieve that the UK will thrive with­out a deal. I un­der­stand that point of view, but it is ir­re­spon­si­ble to play down the short-term risks.

The choices are very clear. After this week, things have changed. There is a an­other pos­si­bil­ity com­ing into sight which is no Brexit at all.

It’s ob­vi­ous that vot­ing for the deal on Tuesday is the only way to guar­an­tee Brexit. Let’s unite be­hind it and frus­trate the Brexit block­ers. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

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