Hampshire Chronicle column 22nd August 2019

My constituents know that, in addition to our family holiday in Devon, I use Parliament’s annual recess for my Summer Tour.

We’ve already visited Winchester Village, Sainsbury’s, Harestock and Kings Worthy but in addition this year, as we approach what promises to be a lively session at Westminster, I am carrying out a Summer Tour Survey.

I am keen to hear your views on my #priorityNHS, the issues where you live, how you hear from me and the things you’d like me to raise using my experience from the back-benches. Issues such as education following my recent ‘Schools in Winchester’ debate as I attempt to persuade Ministers we need a new long-term increased funding settlement. See more, and take part, at stevebrine.com/summertour2019 

Of course that ‘lively’ parliamentary session will be dominated by the Brexit endgame and I will be using every ounce of my experience from a near-decade in Parliament to question and challenge the Government.

Seems to me, and we’ve just returned ourselves from sandcastles and ice cream, the whole nation is buying its’ head in the sand ahead of reality bites next month. Who can blame them?

Obviously I can see we live in an age of social media driven populism where dog-whistle clarion calls - such as ‘Leave now’ or ‘Stop Brexit’ - cut through but I think our country, and dare I say, Winchester deserves better.

I realise my opponents have the luxury of taking a position from either end of the debate but, as an elected MP, I have to be more responsible than that; to represent ALL of my constituents and that’s extremely difficult with some who want it delivered at all costs and others who still can’t (and won’t) accept the referendum result.

While I recognise it doesn’t fit on a tee-shirt, the necessary step for every MP is to support a safe exit from the EU and stop playing games in the name of principal and virtue behind which really lies only naked party politics and self-interest.

To move on, everyone is going to have to accept that compromise is still not a dirty word. However we got there, the referendum had a winner and democrats everywhere need to accept that. Equally (and here I find myself weirdly agreeing with Nigel Farage) for a civilised democracy to work, you need the losers’ consent. Put another way, it’s time for generosity in defeat and magnanimity in victory.

And here’s the truth; no deal is not a destination, it’s a stage. There will be a deal sooner or later given the UK is the EU’s single biggest export destination and the EU single market is our closest and largest trading partner. And that’s before we get onto supply chains, intelligence sharing and border security.

The question is whether it is agreed before October 31, highly preferable to my mind, or whether we must negotiate it from outside. It’s why I am pro-deal and put my money where my mouth is; voting three times for one and resigning from the job I loved in Government.

My personal views on feeling British (and European), on freedom of movement, on membership of a supranational court and pooling some sovereignty to be part of multinational organisations (the EU, NATO, UN) are well known but our country has for now chosen a new path.

This is a nation I serve - and a Parliament I believe in - but it’s time we MPs stepped up and moved things forward because head in sand is not a sustainable policy and there’s a great view to be had if we’d just open our eyes.


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