The Referendum of June 2016 was possibly one of the most divisive events in British political history. It divided families and communities. It was deeply unpleasant and the language by both sides was appalling.
On the remain side we had 'project fear' telling us how the sky would fall in and how those that voted leave were stupid bigots, whilst on the leave side we had the infamous NHS spending commitments (although that is now being delivered on) and the branding of those voting remain as traitors. As a country we need to tone down the rhetoric.
People made their decisions with the information they had and in the best interests of our friends, family and country. There were merits and risks on both sides but a decision was made by the public and now that decision needs to be implemented.
In the end it was the largest ever popular vote in the UK, 52% of voters chose to leave the EU and I believe that all politicians should respect this democratic vote.
I am determined to make a success of Brexit. I do not support calls for second referendum or to revoke Article 50 and ignore the result. I believe that if the establishment or politicians try and overturn the democratically expressed will of 17.5m people then we will do untold damage to our entire democratic process and institutions.
People will genuinely ask ‘what is the point of voting if the result is ignored’?
The triggering of Article 50 in March 2017 should have started a two year process by which we negotiated our departure and put in place the foundations of our future relationship. That has now been delayed and I find that deeply frustrating and a failure of the political establishment. Far too many MPs are playing self indulgent games of their own. I support the Prime Minister’s efforts to secure a good deal whilst at the same preparing properly in case we leave without one. The time for delay and dither is over.
So what do I want for our future?
I believe in a globally orientated Britain that searches the world for opportunities rather than confining us to one continent. I want the best deal that we can get with the EU but it needs to retain our ability to sign trade deals with other countries many of which have already indicated their willingness to do a deal as quickly as possible - such the USA, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Mexico and New Zealand.
To my mind we need the very best possible relationship with our friends and allies, but we no longer want to be involved in the project of political integration in which our sovereignty is gradually eroded and moved to the continent.
However that doesn't mean that we should walk away from everything. There are actually several programmes that are worth participating in. I believe that we should continue to work together on security issues via both NATO and Europol. I hope that we can continue to collaborate with them on research and development projects in the Horizon 2020 programme. I want our students can continue to enjoy the benefits of the ERASMUS programme that allows them to live and learn in other countries.
I can fully understand why the future appears uncertain but I do believe that it can be a bright one.