Lincolnshire Talks: Who should have the final say on the terms of Brexit?

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“Brexit means Brexit” Prime Minister Theresa May has become fond of telling us. Despite her repeated insistence that she will not provide “a running commentary” on negotiations to leave the European Union, this has not stopped the media and politicians from all political parties speculating on what Brexit will mean for the UK.

Debate has switched over the last two weeks to who should actually control the terms of Brexit, and how much of a say Parliament should have in this process.

Earlier this week, Downing Street indicated that MPs would probably be granted a vote on the final Brexit agreement, expected in 2019 after two years of negotiations.

However, campaigners have been calling for a vote before Article 50 is triggered, in theory by the end of March 2017.

Stephen Phillips has been MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham since 2010

Stephen Phillips has been MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham since 2010

This debate was started in many ways by Sleaford and North Hykeham MP Stephen Phillips, who accused the PM of adopting a “fundamentally undemocratic, unconstitutional” approach to leaving the EU.

Phillips, who voted Leave in the referendum, said that he had not voted to restore the sovereignty of the UK Parliament for the government to ignore the views of MPs in the House of Commons.

He said: “The referendum result gives the government no authority or mandate to adopt a negotiating position without reference to the wishes of the House and those of the British people expressed through their elected representatives.”

Following this, Lincolnshire Reporter caught up with other MPs from all ends of Greater Lincolnshire, representing both the Conservatives and Labour, and who voted different ways in the referendum.

Here is what they had to say.

Improper to reverse democratic decision

Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh. Photo: Steve Smailes for Lincolnshire Reporter

Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh. Photo: Steve Smailes for Lincolnshire Reporter

Veteran Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh took a different view to his Lincolnshire Conservative colleague, stating that he fully supports the government’s position.

He said: “The prime minister has committed to respecting the will of the majority of British people who voted in the referendum in June for Brexit.

“We know she has said that by the end of March 2017 the government will have triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and the UK leaving the EU will be locked in.

“It is right that Parliament should scrutinise and hold the government to account on the important issue of Brexit.

“It would however be improper to attempt to reverse the democratic decision taken in the referendum, or reveal our negotiating position in advance of negotiations.”

Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman

Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman

This view has been broadly shared by Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman, who voted Remain, unlike lifelong Eurosceptic Leigh.

Warman said: “It’s important parliament scrutinises the process of the UK leaving the EU, but politicians also need to accept that, whatever their personal preferences, nothing should stand in the way of Britain leaving without unnecessary delay.”

We must make sure we do not lose out

Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin

Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin

Labour MP for Scunthorpe Nic Dakin, a Remain voter, said that the people had voted for the UK Parliament to assert its sovereignty.

He said: “It would be really strange in the light of that if Parliament does not proper scrutiny including a vote on the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU.

“I believe it’s important to deliver the will of the British people. We know we are leaving the EU but we have a responsibility to make sure that we come out but do not lose out.”

Who should control the terms of Brexit? The government? Parliament? The British people? Email [email protected] with your thoughts.

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