Democracy will suffer if MPs do not deliver on a true Brexit
We need to show the thousands of people who went to the polling station for the first time in the EU Referendum that their votes counted and will be respected, writes Steve Double
Cornwall has always had a healthy anti-authoritarian streak.
Look back at the An Gof Rebellion and Bishop Trelawny’s infamous (at least on this side of the Tamar) 20,000 Cornish men who marched on London to demand the release of their leader in the 17th Century.
This streak continues to the present day.
In 2016 the majority of Cornwall voted to leave the European Union.
The mid-Cornwall constituency of St Austell and Newquay that I am honoured to represent had the highest leave vote in Cornwall.
However, Brexit wasn’t just about leaving the European Union.
The referendum vote was also about ordinary people, who felt ignored and marginalised, having their voice heard.
Events of the last six months have reinforced the reasons many voted to leave.
From my soundings both on the Cornish streets and on social media and the hundreds of e-mails I receive on this subject, people everywhere are increasingly feeling that their voice is being ignored and their vote was for nothing
The test for the political establishment at this crucial time in our history is to deliver a Brexit most people believe is a true Brexit.
We need to show the thousands of people who voted for the first time that their votes counted and will be respected.
Or will the establishment once again override the will of the people and say “we know better”?
At the heart of this is the issue of trust and the faith the public put in politicians and our democratic representatives to deliver their will.
Many people voted to leave because of a deep mistrust of the EU and its institutions that seemed remote and detached from the lives of ordinary people.
We saw over the weekend with the comments of the French President, Emmanuel Macron, on fishing and the future trade relationship, that this mistrust is well placed.
People voted for Brexit – a simple yes/no to remaining a member of the EU and implicit in that vote was their trust that politicians, people like me, would deliver their democratically voted result.
The test for the UK Government and political establishment now is to show they are trustworthy.
The current withdrawal agreement and political declaration does not respect the democratic decision of the British people.
In fact, it has the unique and unfortunate distinction of uniting our divided land with almost universal disdain for the agreement.
I have had people who voted both leave and remain get in touch with me asking me not to vote for it.
There is a lot to criticise in the 585-page document. Lots of mumbo jumbo and detail that the layman might not understand.
But for me, crucially, this agreement does not take back our sovereignty.
For the first time the backstop will put us in a position where we belong to a union we cannot leave under our own will.
This most certainly is not taking back control and therefore is not acceptable to me.
Cornwall also has a proud fishing tradition, several communities are within my constituency.
Sadly, I believe the fishing community has been let down by this deal and left in a position where the future control of our waters and therefore the future of this industry is very much in question.
Within hours of the agreement being accepted by the 27 EU states, Mr Macron was on the airways making clear that he would not agree to us leaving the Customs Union unless we allowed French boats access to our fishing waters.
There is a very real danger of us being locked into the backstop and the EU having us right where they want us until we agree to their demands.
It is vital for our democracy that we implement 2016’s referendum result in a way that is recognised as a true Brexit.
This is no longer just about leaving the EU – it is a deeper and more profound question about who rules the UK.
Is it the people – or the establishment?
As MPs, we must remember we are the servants of the people. We represent them.
We take our instructions from them.
They have put us here and they can take us away.
MPs now need to decide whose side to take, the establishment, or the people who voted them in.
I have always been clear that it is the people of midCornwall I serve and represent, and it is to them who I will be ultimately accountable.
I believe if we lose sight of this, both we as politicians and the principle of democracy in the UK will pay the price.