Fringe Box



Anne Milton: ‘It Is Important to Honour the Result of the Referendum’

Published on: 18 Jan, 2019
Updated on: 21 Jan, 2019

In another update to constituents on Brexit, written in the wake of this week’s record government defeat in the EU Withdrawal Agreement vote, Guildford’s MP Anne Milton has confirmed that she still feels it is important to honour the result of the 2016 referendum.

She says that she believed that the PM’s deal, now heavily rejected by her parliamentary colleagues, “was the best option for minimal disruption to our citizens, services and businesses in Guildford and around the country”.

It is now the duty of MPs to try and find a consensus, she believes, saying: “We have heard much about what people don’t want but much less about what MPs do want that is also achievable from the EU.” But she has grave and growing concerns about a second referendum and believes leaving with no deal would result in an economic downturn.

Ms Milton’s letter dated January 16, in full:

2019 Withdrawal Agreement Vote

I thought it would be helpful to update you following the vote on the draft Withdrawal Agreement yesterday.

As you may be aware, I voted to support the draft Agreement. The results were:

    • 202 votes for
    • 432 votes against

Although the draft Withdrawal Agreement is by no means perfect, I feel as strongly as I have always done that it is important to honour the result of the referendum. In my view, the Agreement would do that.

When I voted to trigger Article 50 I emailed a number of you and said that ‘the Government’s job is now to negotiate the best deal possible for the UK’. Two years later, the Government presented its Withdrawal Agreement to the House of Commons, backed by EU leaders and heads of the other 27 EU countries. This was the outcome of two years of negotiations, hard-work and compromise by both the UK Government and their European counterparts.

The deal offers a clear way forward in our relationship with the EU as our leaving date in March moves closer. I took a pragmatic decision to make sure that our exit from the EU was as orderly as possible. I know that the Agreement did not satisfy all of the different concerns both here in Parliament and of the public, but I believed that it was the best option for minimal disruption to our citizens, services and businesses in Guildford and around the country.

Today we now face a vote of confidence in the Government as we expected, and that debate is ongoing as I write this email. There seems to be a belief from some that it is possible to negotiate a much-improved deal. It might be possible to gain small changes but I do not believe that the EU is likely to agree to any substantive changes. However, we need to be clear what would be needed in the way of changes, in order to command a majority in the House. We have heard much about what people don’t want but much less about what MPs do want that is also achievable from the EU.

I still feel very strongly that Parliament and MPs have a duty to try and find consensus. I have had, and still have, grave concerns about a 2nd referendum. My concerns grow and do not diminish. I also remain convinced that leaving on WTO rules will result in an economic downturn and I am unwilling to risk the subsequent social consequences that would ensue.

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Responses to Anne Milton: ‘It Is Important to Honour the Result of the Referendum’

  1. Sean Jenkinson Reply

    January 19, 2019 at 8:17 am

    So which is it?

    First Anne Milton says the only option is a second referendum now she says, “It is important to honour the result of the referendum” from 2016, I am totally confused as to what she wants now.

  2. Stuart Barnes Reply

    January 19, 2019 at 9:29 am

    I agree with Anne Milton that leaving with a good deal is preferable to leaving on WTO terms but the deal cooked up in secret by unelected civil servants and deservedly killed by a majority of 230 was the worst of all deals. That deal was so favourable to the EU and against our country’s interests that some people claim its terms were basically just dictated by the EU.

    If it is not possible to get a decent deal at this late stage then we must leave on WTO terms on 29/3 to abide by democracy. Any reneging would risk severe damage to our political future.

  3. John Armstrong Reply

    January 19, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    I agree with Anne Milton, that the Referendum result needs to be honoured but not with resigned reluctance. I think that she should embrace a no deal Brexit, and sell it to Guildford council taxpayers. Search out the benefits for Guildford instead of looking ever at damage limitation. Give us a bit of confidence instead of dread; a spring in our step, not lead boots.

  4. Phil Grainger Reply

    January 19, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    When Theresa May boxed herself in with red lines to satisfy one faction of Parliament, she laid the foundation for this to happen.

    What is needed now is time for some genuine negotiation – largely within parliament – to avoid the need for another referendum. I hope Conservatives are lobbying their leadership to do this in order to cause “minimal disruption to our citizens, services and businesses in Guildford and around the country”.

    I am glad to hear that she opposes a no deal, WTO Brexit. I also hope you are lobbying your leadership to rule this out – both to avoid the chaos it would cause and to lay the foundations for genuine negotiations with the other parties.

  5. John Schluter Reply

    January 19, 2019 at 9:35 pm

    From a hypothetical mid-fence position, I would be interested to hear the explanation from those advocating WTO terms as a good idea.

    Perhaps they could enlighten us as to the manifold benefits. (Please show workings in the margin). Thanks.

  6. Graham Moore Reply

    January 20, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    Commentators should stop saying “we must honour the result of the referendum”. The government has already done that by the negotiating on what terms Leave is possible. It is for Parliament now to decide what is best for the country. If the government can’t get Parliament to agree, they must either hold a second referendum or another election.

    We’re fed up with Brexit. This huge and costly distraction is only making people more confused and angry. Get back to tackling the fundamental problems arising from new technology, international competition, our ageing population, the budget deficit, etc. Cuts in government spending – on the NHS, education, social services, police, prisons, housing, infrastructure, etc. – are what made people vote Brexit.

    It is however unlikely that a second referendum or even another election will bring the debate back to these essential problems. Parliament is riven with factions and there is no clear leadership. A leader does not ask his followers where they want to go. He or she must have a plan to deal with the underlying problems and convince others to follow him. Mrs May is not such a leader.

    In such a moment of crisis, moderates of both parties should come together to form a National Government and find a leader to formulate a plan to tackle these fundamental problems. Get on with it!

  7. Graham Richings Reply

    January 20, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    One thing that businesses do not like is uncertainty and there is probably more uncertainty in trying to get a deal with EU rather than going for a “no deal” on WTO terms. The latter is what those who wished to leave the EU voted for and currently the default option. With WTO terms there will be certainty.

    Only about 8% of our businesses export to the EU. The remaining 92% will probably be delighted to be free of restrictive EU practices. We would be able to cut tariffs thereby reducing many of our living costs. Uncertainty is being created by “Remain” politicians.

    Our MPs need to face up to the fact that this was not a constituency-based referendum but a UK wide one. It is a great shame that constituency results were ever published because this in itself has created problems. A UK wide result would have been far more satisfactory and eliminated a lot of the friction that now exists in our country. We were promised that the result of the 2016 Referendum would be honoured and the government and Parliament must deliver on that promise

    I was present at Spectrum in Guildford when the votes were counted in the early hours of the morning and when it was becoming apparent that the Leave vote was going to win. I was sitting near to Anne Milton, a Remainer. When it became apparent which way the vote was going she got up and left.

    This appears to be the time when the split between Leavers and Remainers started. Better had she stayed to the end of the count and supported her constituency voters either way. Another reason for our current problems is that a Remainer was put in charge of the government and there were, and are, Remainers in the Cabinet. A recipe for disaster. MPs must be positive and do what they promised and do what the voting public mandated them to do. Leave the EU.

  8. David Pillinger Reply

    January 20, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    As Anne Milton says, everything should be done to honour the result of the referendum.

    Now that we see what Brexit might look like, it looks like it is not the Nirvana that people were promised. Giving up all those acquired benefits, such as our ability to work and do business freely around the continent, save money by sharing costs and participate in international projects, does come with a rather large cost to our country.

    If Parliament, which is made up largely of well informed and intelligent people, cannot agree to accept the negotiated Brexit (and by the way, I think Theresa May has done an excellent job at getting the deal she has against all the odds), it should be put to a public vote with the option, either to accept it (as the Brexit we voted for) or to retain what we already have. (WTO rules should be ruled out because it is a barmy option, only good for people with a kamikaze disposition).

    I would say to Brexiteers, that the public knows best, as they demonstrated in 2016, so please have faith in them. They will choose the right course of action next time too.

    • John Perkins Reply

      January 21, 2019 at 1:29 pm

      Since when was sharing costs saving money? Resources are normally pooled in order to afford more expensive items and EU projects are no different. Was sharing the cost of subsidising the new car plant in Slovakia which allowed JLR to transfer jobs there from the Midlands saving money?

      What a simple question such a new public vote would present: stay in completely or stay in mostly.

  9. David Roberts Reply

    January 21, 2019 at 4:58 pm

    There’s a very simple solution. Revoke Article 50 and call the whole thing off. Brexit is a catastrophe.

  10. Stuart Barnes Reply

    January 22, 2019 at 8:43 am

    I assume that Mr Pillinger’s comment that “Parliament is made up of well informed and intelligent people” is a joke. It appears actually to be composed of a bunch of mediocre “never wasses” who consider themselves so superior to the masses who voted to get out of the corrupt and intensely hated EU that they feel able to ignore them.

    It seems clear to me that the majority of the people now favour an exit on WTO terms as Mrs May’s unelected civil servants have made such a hash of the withdrawal deal. There is no wish for a losers’ second referendum.

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