MPs will be asked to decide next week in a series of Parliamentary votes, the outcomes of which will have a decisive influence over life in Britain for decades and generations to come. It is a heavy personal responsibility.
Most ‘decisions’ in Parliament are pretty easy. MPs follow their Manifesto, listen to their Party Whips, consider constituency interests, in deciding on every single thing they do. But by and large the route forward is pretty straightforward. Not this time.
A huge spread of influences and pressures bear down on the MP. What do the constituents think? (very probably more or less split down the middle, so no help there.) The subtle black arts of whipping, influence, patronage; opinion in the media and social media; the views of well-respected colleagues; long-standing political beliefs. These and a thousand other influences crowd in on the MP’s thinking, which is all then distilled down into a vote- either Aye or Noe- on Tuesday next at 7PM.
I have been listening carefully- reading and replying to every one of the many thousands of letters from constituents; meeting with my European Research Group colleagues; a briefing in NO 10 from arch-Remainer, the PM’s Chief of Staff, Gavin Barwell. We have talked of little else for two or three years. Yet I still cannot tell you definitively how I will vote on the Withdrawal Agreement. That depends entirely on what Attorney General Geoffrey Cox brings back from Brussels over the weekend. If it is a substantial change to the obnoxious and unsupportable Back Stop arrangements, then I will be inclined, and under pressure probably will, support the Deal. It will be through gritted teeth, and will definitely be a vote for the least bad of a very bad lot. But it will be hard to resist. On the other hand, If the Attorney General fails to come up with something convincing, it will be pretty straightforward- I will vote against the deal.
I will vote against Wednesday’s rather childish attempt to take ‘No Deal‘ off the table. (I felt that Amber Rudd, its authoress, was given a surprisingly easy time of it at a speech she made in North Wiltshire last Friday). And I will vote against any unreasonable extension of Article 50 on Thursday (other than perhaps a small technical extension to give time for the necessary legislations and so on.)
But as I have often said, I vote from conviction, and from careful consideration of the various arguments, from a lifelong dislike of the EU, for the 52% who voted to leave in North Wilts. All of those things come together to dictate my Eurosceptic stance, and my determination to deliver on the Brexit the people voted for in the Referendum three years ago. But I hope I am humble and modest enough to acknowledge that I can but hope against hope, nay pray, that I am right in doing so.