When my old friend, 102-year old Kitty Sparkes, grasps you by the hand, fixes you with her glittering eye and tells you what’s what… well, you listen. “It doesn’t matter what she says or doesn’t. Mrs May is the Prime Minister and you must support her,” she said at a lunch on Friday. And I do. I am proud of the picture on the front of my Christmas card this year of 120 soldiers in Westminster Hall being welcomed in by the PM and me. And I mean no disrespect by the cartoon inside the card of me falling down the PM’s Private staircase in Parliament, clutching my controversial book, Full English Brexit. There is just a little kitten heel showing from the PM’s door, and the inevitable caption “Did he fall or was he pushed?”
Later last weekend I was at the superb Youth Action Wiltshire Carols evening in Malmesbury Abbey arranged by my dynamic constituent Rebecca Worsley, and attended (amongst others) by HRH the Duchess of Cornwall. (She must have had enough of me by then- we were at the Wiltshire Air Ambulance launch that morning, then at the opening of the lovely Moravian Church Museum in Malmesbury earlier in the evening.) I was particularly moved by Sheila Hancock’s reading of the old story of the Christmas Truce. The Germans started off by lighting Christmas trees all along their trenches, then joining the Tommies singing carols round a campfire in No Man’s Land, and then of course on Christmas Day itself playing a famous game of football before the fighting started again on Boxing day.
Kitty’s wise words, and the image of bitter enemies singing carols and playing football, together with the general message of good will and hope and cheerfulness which surrounds Christmas made me view the dramatic events of the previous week in Parliament in a new light.
Everywhere I go round the constituency people tell me that they want Brexit sorted; they want to fulfil the people’s expectations in the Referendum of a Clean English Brexit; they want certainty and clarity; they want an end to the national humiliation which we are suffering at the hands of the EU; and to a very significant extent, they want us to stand up to Brussels in a real way and tell them how it is. And perhaps more than anything else they want us in Parliament to stop bickering about it; stop the in-fighting and name calling and behave like Statemen not school children.
So I renew my plea for sense and sensibility in Parliament. The real enemy is not each other- Jacob against Ken Clarke; IDS against Anna Soubry. The enemy for once is not even the Labour Party, who are as split over Europe as are we Tories. The enemy in M Barnier, and Juncker and the rest of them. They are the ones who are preventing a fair Brexit by their insistence on the wholly unnecessary backstop. They are holding us out to dry (and up to ridicule) and they are doing their best to give us a good punishment beating too, no doubt to warn other wavering EU states of what will happen to them if they have the barefaced effrontery to want to leave their rotten little club.
Well I think it’s time for Britons -all of us collectively- to stand up to them. “The people voted to leave and leave you must now let us do on honourable terms. And if you do not, come the 29th of March we will leave anyhow.”