4 April 2019

Working with Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit is a big mistake

By Ben Bradley

Just when you think the Brexit fiasco could not get any worse, the Prime Minister seems to find a way to surpass all of our expectations. It’s one thing to be forced by Parliament towards a customs union or second referendum, it’s quite another to collude with Jeremy Corbyn to deliver one.

The Cooper Bill and proposals by the House in recent weeks have ripped up the rule book, taking control of the Business in the Commons and last night ramming through an entire Bill in one day. It’s almost unheard of, and has set a difficult precedent that, in the long term, could cause huge problems. It’s something that is being forced on the Government, and though we can argue about whose fault it is that we’ve got to this point, it’s not something the Prime Minister or the bulk of the Conservative Party were going along with willingly.

We saw just how close those votes were yesterday, with one even being tied for the first time in more than 25 years. As the Bill scraped through by one vote, it was clear that it is Parliament, and not the Conservative Government, that is watering down Brexit.

There are many good reasons why we don’t want a long delay, not least the requirement to stand in European Elections that would make a mockery of the decision to leave taken three years ago, and why we shouldn’t stand for the customs union proposals that seem to be the most likely end game for Remainers in Parliament.

In fact, I think many Brexiteers would even tell you they’d rather remain in the EU than end up in that position, where we agree to continue to abide by the rules and regulations of European trade but give up our seat at the table, allowing an MEP from Malta to have more say over our trade regulation than a British MP. That’s just wrong and actually gives away power rather than taking back control as we promised. It’s not something anyone really wants, but for Remainers in the House it’s the closest thing to us staying in — and potentially an opportunity to talk about re-joining in the future.

As I said, it’s one thing to have that forced on you in a minority Government by a Parliament that is overwhelmingly remain, it’s quite another to take an active part in agreeing it, and a pretty grave step to invite a man to the table that the PM regularly describes as a threat to our national security.

The Conservative Party won in seats like mine because local residents wanted Brexit delivered, and were desperate to keep that man away from Number 10. I heard it over and over again on the doorsteps: ‘’I’ve always been Labour but Corbyn can never be our Prime Minister.’ I’ve had the same feedback this week, with constituents contacting me, angry that the PM is giving a seat at the table to a man they are certain is unfit for office, and who does not stand up for Britain’s interests.

While his own views on the subject are still unclear, we know that his party will demand some combination of a customs union and/or a second referendum. The Conservative Party has categorically ruled out both of these options — and both would be hugely damaging to our democracy. We made promises, Labour made many of the same ones too. They may have ripped up their manifesto, we cannot and should not do the same. And we certainly should not do it at the behest of a Leader of the Opposition who has thought of nothing other than bringing down the Government since 2017.

May’s red lines were there for a reason. They represented what Brexit actually meant, and because any less than that would not be delivering on the referendum result. Parliament has made it incredibly difficult to deliver on that, and Parliament is now forcing the Government’s hand. The only thing the Prime Minister could do to make that worse for her voters, for leavers, for her MPs in Parliament, is to invite Corbyn for tea and become complicit in the conspiracy.

She met the Cabinet, she made a choice, once again she made the wrong one. If Corbyn gets his way, it’s hard to see how we come back from this to deliver anything meaningful.

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Ben Bradley is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Mansfield.