13 DEC 2018

Brexit Update 8.45am

Last night's confidence vote has clearly demonstrated that there is no majority in the Conservative Party in the Commons, let alone across Parliament, for the hard Brexiteer's vision of Brexit. I supported the PM in last night's vote. The inescapable truth is that the Withdrawal Agreement and Future Framework will not pass the Commons either but it is the only realistic negotiated version of Brexit. We have reached deadlock and sooner or later the PM will have to take her deal direct to the people or risk us crashing out in a chaotic Brexit with inadequate transition arrangements in place. Britain is woefully unprepared for that and no responsible government could allow that to happen.

This whole episode was unwelcome and unnecessary but at least we will all be spared the weekly threats of the '48' letters for at least a year and the PM should now stop trying to appease the right wing of the Party.

15 comments

Wholly and completely agree. Coming from someone who would rather a full leave or remain choice. Too many people on here protecting their personal view at all cists rather than what is good for the country and miilions of YOUNGER generation who will be deeply affected by thus. Why are some so desperate to avoid a 2nd referendum? What are you worried about?
- David R

We voted for Brexit, not Brino ( Brexit in name only) and that's why so called Brexiteers are angry. The referendum result could not be clearer. What we have now is a disfunctional parliament full of remain voting MPs that are refusing to deliver what people have democratically voted for. When this is all finally sorted out we need a root and branch reform of parliament as it is clearly not fit for purpose. This is a democracy that is no longer democratic.
- David H

More weasel words Sarah. Brexit is Brexit as stated at the Referendum, neither soft or hard. The fact that MPs will not honour their pledge in the manifesto or their duty to the electorate does not justify their actions; it shows a disconnect.
- John

Parliament is full of people who realise the brexit will make us poorer and that no deal will make us a lot poorer. I don't blame them for trying to prevent this. As is plain from the events of the last few days, the hard brexiters have no loyalty to anything except their own ideology. Ask yourself what this very rich club want to gain from brexit. The removal of regulation for environmental, food safety, workers protection. The fact that millions of peoples jobs depend upon the free movement of goods across EU borders means nothing to them.
- Bob

When May steps aside, the next leader elected by the membership will be a Brexiteer. The 48 are well placed to control the future. Sarah you should join the Lib Dems. You'll feel more at home there.
- George, Paignton

So the member for the 18th century will control the future! He will have to find it first
- Bob

The Luddite Dad's Army buffoons were seen off in fine style. May cannot now be challenged for a year. If she has any forethought, intelligence, or nouse ( which I doubt) she should change direction, sweep out the deadwood in her cabinet like Fox and Loathsome, and bring in some younger blood. She could do this now before her deal comes back to the Commons. To reach out and get anybody decent on board she would have to commit to a 2nd referendum. To deny us a 2nd referendum is a denial of democracy and justice. Meanwhile she could loose a confidence vote, as the Members have lost confidence in her ability to govern, her authority has utterly evaporated and the ERG group are fuming.
- Richard

Yes Richard, leaving the silly name calling aside, she could do all you suggest. I suppose this would show some degree of strength I guess. However, judging by the comments on the blogs on this page, this is likely to consign the Tory Party (or possibly Parties as over a third voted against the leader) to the wilderness for many years to come leaving a Corbyn Government. It could be worse, I guess – not sure how! I just can’t understand how a second referendum will change anything – unless everyone suddenly ‘sees the light’, converts and decides they want to Remain. How likely is that? Here’s a novel idea – why can’t we all just get behind the original referendum and get on with it wherever that might lead! Once the uncertainty is removed, we can all get on with making it work and business can get on with doing business!
- Patrick, Brixham

I am not against a second referendum - bearing in mind the number of people who must have been misled by the campaign on the red bus, it seems the right thing to do. However, if we are going to go ahead with Brexit, the big problem seems to be the Irish border. I have heard lots of talk about following the Norway model, but no one has mentioned Switzerland. As far as I know the Swiss border is fairly 'soft'. Would this be a model to follow?
- Jeremy

It doesn't need everyone to see the light, don't forget leave won by quite a small margin. Polls are already suggesting that a referendum run today would give remain the edge. Why else are the leavers so scared of another vote. Cameron only called the referendum to stop the exodus of tory voters to ukip and to stop the party losing power. He never wanted it, and never expected to lose.
- Bob

As I previously said - So, we have a ‘Peoples Vote’ and Remain win by say 52 to 48%. Now we have nearly half of the electorate feeling cut off and ignored. What do they do? They can no longer vote for their current MP who they will see as failing them. So in this vacuum, the electorate turns to the extreme (left or right) to protest – there are already parties here in the UK looking to exploit this. This is the lesson from history. Let's say Leave wins - then how will the be any more accepted than the last time? Not scared of another vote (even though the question may be set to ensure we get the correct answer) - just sure that it won't actually change anything and worried of where it will lead and the impact on democracy.
- Patrick, Brixham

The 48% feel cut off and ignored now. I can see that some people will be tempted by extremists, but most people in this country struggle to get out to vote anyway. Even the referendum turnout was only about 70%, so almost 13,000,000 couldn't be bothered. The % who voted leave was about 37 The main argument for another vote is to set a way forward. May's deal, no deal, some other sort of deal or remain with the deal we have now.
- Bob

Bob you lost. The referendum was a clear choice and the minority were not going to get their choice. You would not have given a damn for Leavers if the public had voted Remain. Now I'm expected to care for your views? Cry me a river. The turnout was anybody eligible who could be bothered to vote. You have no idea of the views of those who did not vote, just as you have no idea of the views of people too young to vote. You won't be getting another vote so get over it and stop your moaning.
- George, Paignton

So, now it is time to do what we voted for and leave the EU. I voted and expected parliament to work together to deliver, after all both main parties stood on a manifesto to leave. It is not my fault you did not work to leave with treaties to enable a smooth transition.. Your fault as a politician, not mine for voting as I have wanted to for all my adult life in the only vote where my vote actually counted.
- Giles, Paignton

George. With due respect, at the last referendum there was widespread deceit and outright lies. The bigger the whopper the more it was believed. The Leave side produced no prospectus. Now we have the prospectus and voters can make an informed judgement. And why deny the people the right to change their minds? May was elected Leader 2 years ago, but the ERG group called an election as they changed their minds. The duped DUP have changed their minds. Why can't the opportunity be offered to the electorate in a referendum? Sarah is absolutely correct. You will thank her in the end for having the courage to stand up for her beliefs.
- Richard

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12 DEC 2018

Today's Vote 3.30pm

I will be backing Theresa May in this evening's confidence vote. I hope that the ERG will finally be shown for what they are, a small and unrepresentative faction pushing for a version of Brexit that has no chance of passing the Conservative Party let alone the House of Commons. It was irresponsible and self-indulgent for a few individuals to be pushing their own leadership ambitions at such a time of national crisis and particularly to have done so whilst our Prime Minister was meeting EU leaders abroad.

No one should doubt Theresa May's personal integrity and sense of duty and the contrast with those scheming to take her place could not be in sharper relief. Whilst I continue to hope that the PM will move to take her deal direct to the people, I have great personal respect for her determined efforts to try to find a compromise through the Withdrawal Agreement and Future Framework.

I hope we will now be spared the ERG posturing for a while as, following an unsuccessful leadership challenge, there cannot be another for 12 months.

14 comments

Although I personally do not think that we should have another vote. Thank you for your clear statement. I hope that you are one of many and that the Prime minister is recognised for her integrity as stated and has a clear majority supporting her this evening
- Hazel Howe

What a joke! Sarah has undermined Theresa May at every opportunity during the withdrawal negotitations and no wishes to support her. Your stance is somewhat hypocritical Sarah and is only designed to thwart the efforts of those genuinely honouring the referendum result. Your support is shallow to say the least.
- David H

So in the midst of the most important negotiations in our lifetime the ERG and followers have lobbed a grenade into the tory party. Now there's loyalty to the country for you. I don't like the deal we have waited two years for, but all the ERG can offer is chaos. No wonder John Major called his anti EU mob B*****ds!
- Bob

If you are going to support our PM, then really support her. Enough of this ‘Peoples Vote’. I do have doubts about some aspects of the deal but if you support her, then do it fully. Please get on with honouring the manifesto on the basis of which you were elected. I would also say that you may be surprised at the size of the support in the country for this “small and unrepresentative faction” as you put it judging by the comments on these recent blogs and how this support will grow if Brexit is thwarted.
- Patrick, Brixham

We are in a pickle, no doubt about it. Ms May's government had to be dragged though the Supreme Court for Parliament to trigger Article 50. May resisted a meaningful vote in Parliament, and it only just squeaked through (thanks to Sarah and others). She’s trying to deny the public a referendum on the facts, and now she's denied Parliament a vote on her doggy deal. But she'll all we have. The ERG group are a bunch of Dad's Army fanatics. So Sarah is correct. it's a complete shambles, we are laughing stock, and the last thing we need now is a Tory Leadership election. But May needs to compromise and offer the people a vote on her deal. She's a lame duck leader now.
- Richard

Sarah, I hope you continue to campaign for a people’s Vote. It is the only democratic way forward with the government not functioning and destroying itself with its political infighting. Never before has democracy been so important. The first referendum should never have been taken as a final say, it should have been purely advisory. Also, it was so close that the result should not have been followed on such an important issue which will affect us permanently for the rest of the future. Those nasty self interested hard ERG Brexiteers have no interest in democracy or the interests of the people, many of whom already struggle to make ends meet, and I hope that they are voted down tonight . I’m not a fan of May, but the alternative is worse! Please know that you have lots of support. Helen (member of Devon for Europe)
- Helen Petit

These are not my original ideas but the 40 reasons below come from the Conservative website. Can you Sarah counter the reasons why we should honour the people’s vote already cast. I’m certain your constituents who you should represent, will not support your change of views so I would ask you again to change back to your original position of wanting to leave. Listen to your constituents....please. Free movement will come to an end, once and for all, with the introduction of a new skills-based immigration system. We will take back full control of our money which we will be able to spend on our priorities such as the NHS. We will leave EU regional funding programmes – with the UK deciding how we spend this money in the future. The jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK will end. In the future we will make our own laws in our own Parliaments and Assemblies in Westminster, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. We will leave the Common Agricultural Policy. We will leave the Common Fisheries Policy and become an independent coastal state again, with control over our waters. We will be able to strike trade deals with other countries around the world. Deals can be negotiated and ratified during the implementation period and put in place straight afterwards. We will be an independent voice for free trade on the global stage, speaking for ourselves at the World Trade Organisation, for the first time in decades. We will be freed from the EU’s political commitment to ever closer union. We will be out of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, recognising the UK’s long track record in protecting human rights. A fair settlement of our financial obligations, which will be less than half what was originally predicted. Both the one million UK citizens living in the EU and the three million EU citizens living in the UK will have their rights legally guaranteed so they can carry on living their lives as before. We will have a free trade area with the EU, with no tariffs, fees, charges or quantative restrictions across all sectors, helping to protect UK jobs. We will be the only major economy with such a relationship with the EU. We’ve agreed with the EU that we will be as ambitious as possible in easing the movement of goods between the UK and the EU as part of our free trade area. We will have an implementation period after we leave the EU during which trade will continue much as it does now. This will allow Government, businesses and citizens time to prepare for our new relationship. The deal will see a greater reduction in barriers to trade in services than in any previous trade deal. There will be an agreement that means UK citizens can practice their profession in the EU. A comprehensive deal that secures access to the EU market for our financial services sector meaning the EU cannot withdraw it on a whim. This will provide stability and certainty for the industry. A best in class agreement on digital, helping to facilitate e-commerce and reduce unjustified barriers to trade by electronic means. We have agreed that there will be arrangements that will let data continue to flow freely, vital across our economy and for our shared security. Trade arrangements for gas and electricity will help to ease pressure on prices and keep supply secure. Strong rules will be in place to keep trade fair, so neither the UK nor EU can unfairly subsidise their industries against the other. We will have a comprehensive Air Transport Agreement and comparable access for freight operators, buses and coaches. We have agreed that there will be arrangements so we can take part in EU programmes like Horizon and Erasmus. There will be a co-operation agreement with Euratom, covering all the key areas where we want to collaborate. Visa-free travel to the EU for holidays and business trips will continue. Our new security partnership will mean sharing of data like DNA, passenger records and fingerprints to fight crime and terrorism, going beyond any previous agreement the EU has made with a third country. Our new security partnership will enable the efficient and swift surrender of suspected and wanted criminals. Close co-operation for our police forces and other law enforcement bodies. We will continue to work together on sanctions against those who violate international rules. We will work together on cyber-security threats and support international efforts to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Disputes between the UK and the EU on the agreement will be settled by an independent arbitrator, ensuring a fair outcome. We will meet our commitment to ensure that there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. We will keep the Common Travel Area between the United Kingdom and Ireland, ensuring everyday life continues as now. We will keep the Single Electricity Market between Northern Ireland and Ireland, which will help maintain a stable energy supply and keep prices down in Northern Ireland. Both sides will be legally committed, by the Withdrawal Agreement, to use “best endeavours” to get the future relationship in place by the end of the implementation period, helping to ensure the backstop is never used. An agreement to consider alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, including all facilitative arrangements and technologies, and to begin preparatory work on this before we leave the EU, reflecting shared determination to replace the backstop. In the unlikely event we do have to use the backstop, a UK-wide customs area will ensure there is no customs border in the Irish Sea. Gibraltar’s British sovereignty will be protected. The deal delivers on the referendum result. It takes back control of our money, borders and laws whilst protecting jobs, security and the integrity of the United Kingdom.
- Mike Freeman

I agree with David H. Sarah Wollaston, in her capacity as MP for Totnes, has been disloyal to the party and its leadership on too many occasions for anyone to think that she is a true Tory. I suggest that she is supporting the PM on this occasion because any potential replacement would be a real Brexiteer.
- Lewis Mosse

People will remember Sarah Wollaston as just another sycophantic anti-democrat intent on keeping someone in office who has no concept of democracy, sovereignty or any of the other things people voted for in the referendum. The people had their vote already, respect it.
- Peter Hearn

117 votes. No Backstop here! The truth is that May is running out of road and the next leader will be Boris Johnson. Elected by the members. Sarah can stop pretending to be a Tory then.
- George, Paignton

2 faced or delusional , which is it Sarah??
- Peter Mulloy

ERG posturing? are you going to stop your posturing for a peoples vote that we've already had?? and get behind the parties commitments, maybe you just can't let your personal views be put before, Democracy , your constituents, and your Party. You are supposed to stand by the peoples (including constituents) wishes, Leave the job please if you can't do it.
- peter paignton

Write to the Totnes Conservative Assoc. asking for a new candidate at the next election. Sarah W has undermined democracy and the party on whose back she was elected. She clearly has more sense of self than of duty to the people who elected her.
- John

Boris as PM Saints and Angels of mercy protect us
- Bob

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10 DEC 2018

Brexit Update 12.30pm

The Parliamentary vote on Tuesday has now been delayed and we are awaiting a Statement from the Prime Minister in the Commons at 3.30 today to set out what happens next. I hope that there will be an acknowledgement of the gridlock in Parliament and a pledge to return the decision on the final deal to the British people, with an option to remain with the deal we already have.

The European Court of Justice has this morning ruled that the UK can unilaterally withdraw Article 50 if that follows a democratic process and that if it did so we would remain on current terms. This matters because there has been some false speculation that Britain might face a penalty for remaining and this puts beyond doubt that this would not be the case.

15 comments

The only penalty Britain would face for remaining in the EU would be remaining in the EU. Can we have the decision on who our MP will be returned to the people of Totnes? "A people's vote"? It's just that I voted a party committed to honouring the referendum result and removing us from the EU, the Single Market and the Customs Union. Now I find the constituency lumbered with Sarah Wollaston, elected under false pretences and refusing to do as she promised. Surely this is the vote that is really required?
- George, Paignton

The Referendum was quite clear - a vote to Leave the EU. It doesn't matter whether you want to remain or leave - the result was given by the majority of the people in the UK. Whether we were misled by either side doesn't matter. If Democracy is to be followed then we leave. There was no agreement to give people another vote, a voice or anything else. It is the responsibility of Government to Leave. We are a Democratic country. If ways around the outcome of that Vote are found and actioned, then we are no longer a Democratic country. Agree with George, if we voted Conservatives into power and then some of us changed our minds, would anything be done? If you don't honour this Vote, you let down everyone who voted, whether they changed their minds subsequently or not. This is about the importance of democracy.
- jane

Dr Wollaston now wants a “people’s vote” what is the difference between this and a referendum. Apparently those who voted “leave” in the first referendum didn’t understand what they were voting for, how would they know the second time? I agree with George, Paignton, i am 72 years old, I have always voted Conservative, but for sure Dr.Wollaston will not got my vote in any future election, as she is rolling out the carpet for a Corbyn government.
- Cindy

Dr Wollaston spoke passionately in Parliament about going back to the people to vote on a Brexit now known more about. I would ask Dr Wollaston whether she is prepared to support the Prime Minster and support the leaving Europe after conducting a constituency review? My understanding is all party Manifestos were to honour Brexit. To go to a people’s vote and it’s to stay, what about the disenfranchised voters who still remain convinced that being a “51st state of Europe”. Do we then seek a third vote when staying in is examined in detail and it’s disadvantages highlighted. If she is not prepared to honour her constituents views to leave, perhaps she should make way for someone who represents the views of her voters.
- Mike Freeman

Just wondering who voted in 2016 , was it guinea pigs? Oh wait a minute , it was people. We've already had the people's vote and the result was to leave failing, corrupt EU. How has Sarah Wollaston got the audacity to be an MP when she clearly does not believe in or support democracy?
- Fred Paignton

Personally I am disgusted by Dr Wollaston's conduct throughout the Brexit issue. A last minute change of mind on something as important as leaving the EU, coupled with the usual publicity that she seems to crave - really! She seemed then to forget she was elected to represent a fishing constituency! Since then her and her like have sought to undermine the PM and the democratic vote to leave the EU. That made the task of negotiating a fair exit for the UK an almost impossible task, given the weakness of the undermined negotiators. As a result we have now a weak compromise. Dr Wollaston seems to want to tie the UK into a deal that sees the UK taxpayer having to pay for the failings in countries such as the currently riotous France, the failing economies of Greece and Italy, let alone the many other countries in the group of 27. I doubt most UK citizens could correctly name all those countries if asked! I fully support the views of Fred and George above. When we next face an election I, as a normal Tory voter together I suspect with all my extended family will not be voting for her! She is a disgrace! Good on health issues, but very poor on much else!
- David Pakes - South Brent

The referendum was a very close vote. Only 70% of those eligible to vote bothered to turn out so by no stretch of the imagination can it be said to be a majority of the country. Brexit will make us poorer. The young people of this country will have to live with the choice we make now for the next 50 years so we neen to be very careful what we do next. Anyone who has taken the trouble to watch the debate (sadly curtailed) on the deal will have seen the division amongst MPs, and the wide range of opinopns on what to do next. We can stop brexit, take stock and think what to do next and take an informed decision on what to do next. This is too important to make a hasty panicked decision.
- Bob

Who ever says we must be bound indefinitely by the result of a general election, regardless of our experience of what happens afterwards? We learn more after each result and hey-ho, some want to change their minds next time! And what's all this about 'the majority of the people in the UK'? If by 'the people in the UK' we mean those entitled to express a view through the ballot box, only 37.4% of those people in the UK actually voted in favour of over-turning, potentially irrevocably, a 45-year-established constitutional dispensation. Whatever happened to the usual requirement for constitutional changes to be based on a two-thirds majority? The much-hyped 52% falls a tad short of that. We should now be planning back from Thursday 23rd May 2019, the date of the next Euro-elections. The plan goes like this, with the questions to be put in that UK vote on Thursday 23rd May, in sequence: 1 - A) do you wish the UK to continue its membership of the EU, or B) do you wish the UK to cease its membership of the EU? ['X' marks the spot for your choice]. 2 - in the event that 1 A) commands majority support, please now vote for your preferred candidate to be elected to the European Parliament for 2019-24, so that in continuing its membership of the EU the UK will maintain its ability to influence the decisions of the European Parliament and of other European institutions with a voice, a vote, and if necessary a veto. Remember that the UK is one of 28 EU countries ie 3.6%, with 10% of the seats in the European Parliament [is that not already a good deal?] 3 - in the event that 1 B) commands majority support, please indicate if you wish the UK to cease its membership of the EU A) with the deal with the EU which has been negotiated, or B) without any deal with the EU. ['X' marks the spot for your choice]. And by the way, postpone the other UK elections due on Thursday 2nd May 2019 and hold them on the 23rd too, as we've already done several times before. If the Leavers are so confident that they're still right, why are they frit?
- Rog Laker

Of course we're not bound indefinitly by an election result. In a democracy you implement the result and are able to revisit at a later time; tough if you're on the losing side but don't whinge. The referendum was won by 3.8%, many elected MPs were elected by smaller margins but you don't hear them demanding a new election. The Remainers seem to have rather defeatist personalities, maybe they were spoiled as children, success comes from believing in something and working towards it.
- John

Hope your pleased with yourself Sarah, now a vote of no confidence in Teresa May, a woman who has tried to carry out the peoples democratic vote. Teresa and the Conservative party were badly let down by you, Anna Soubry, and 10 other vipers, from the onset. Your constituents voted to leave 53% so you didn't represent them, you didn't represent the Conservative Party who I voted for to have the referendum and carry out the result of that referendum, so I can only conclude you believe yourself above, the democratic view of the Public, your Party, and your constituents. Surely you should stand as an Independent ?? You have contributed to irreparable damage both financially and democratically to this great country. Teresa May is an honest person who stands by Conservative values and standards, unlike yourself. I'm sure Jeremy Corbyn is eternally grateful to you and your little gang. SHAMEFUL.
- Peter Mulloy

Theresa May has to go, no question. Since the Chequers weekend where she took direct control over negotiations with the EU the whole process has been shambolic. All she has managed to achieve in two years is a draft withdrawal agreement that nobody likes and which gives the EU everything it wants, in return for making the UK an EU colony with no say over regulations affecting it's future. Even at this late hour I would prefer to see David Davis or Dominique Raab (preferably the former) take over to sort this terrible mess out. As I have said many times in earlier contributions to these pages Theresa May is taking our country in the wrong direction and unless she is removed she will lead the conservative party to a serious collapse at the next general election.
- David H

Rog Laker. An interesting if very complex referendum question. And to answer your question – am I ‘frit’ – the answer is yes, but not for the reasons you think. Look back at history to see why – the party of the most dangerous European leader of the 20th century was actually elected! When there is widespread dissatisfaction and the governing elite decide to ignore the wishes of a significant number of its electorate, therein lies trouble. So, we have a ‘Peoples Vote’ and Remain win by say 52 to 48%. Now we have nearly half of the electorate feeling cut off and ignored. What do they do? They can no longer vote for their current MP if they feel that they have been ignored. So in this vacuum, the electorate turns to the extreme (left or right) to protest – there are already parties here in the UK looking to exploit this. Look over the channel – what do you think is fuelling the rise of extremism? Could it be a distant centralised elite who ignore the wishes of the electorate? Please, Dr Wollaston, get behind your party to deliver what you had promised, deliver Brexit and let us avoid the disaster of extremism and learn our lessons from history!
- Patrick, Brixham

When was the authority to decide national policy devolved to just 600 Parliamentary individuals? I thought, maybe naively that our MPs were elected to represent the wishes of those who elected them! In this constituency we voted to leave the EU and after all these months have an opportunity to leave under a deal, which although imperfect, represents months of talks, negotiations and compromises or leave with no deal and forge our own future. I, for one, favour the latter - a clean break -- we can be self-determining and not held hostage to EU manipulators. The EU need us as much as we need them as a market for goods and services! Dr. Wollaston was elected to serve the people who make up the democracy we treasure and should not simply vote according to her own predilections. Theresa May has maintained a dignified and statesmanlike position throughout this process and, whether you agree with the deal on the table or not, she deserves respect and support. In all the rhetoric flying about from all sides at the moment the two options above mentioned seem to be all that is possible - the deal negotiated or no deal at all.
- Gerry - Kingsbridge

Just an observation - in the overall referendum vote in the South Hams 29308 voted to remain and 26142 voted to leave on an 80.3% turnout which is about 53% in favour of remaining, the opposite to the overall national result. While South Hams is more than just the Totnes constituency it seems unlikely to me that the higher level of voting to remain was confined to areas of the South Hams outside Totnes. On that basis, isn't it possible that our MP is actually following the wishes of the majority of her constituents?!
- Francis South Brent

The referendum was 2.5 years ago, and the facts now are totally different from the lies and deceit presented by the Brexit side, and of course a major benefactor is under criminal investigation. Democracy demands that the Parliament return the deal to the people for approval, as a union would seek ratification from the workers after negotiating a deal with the employers. So Sarah is quite correct in the brave stance she is taking.
- Richard

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10 DEC 2018

Brexit Update 11.30am

Thank you to everyone who has written to me about Brexit and the Parliamentary votes due to take place on Tuesday. It used to be said that 'a week is a long time in politics', but the situation appears to be evolving far more rapidly than that.

As things stand, it looks certain that the Approval Motion for the Withdrawal Agreement and Future Framework will fail to pass the Commons. This defeat would then come on the heels of three avoidable defeats last week where the government was found in contempt of Parliament for refusing to abide by its own promise to publish its legal advice, and on the issue of Parliament's demand to be able to amend future motions on Brexit.

In 'normal' times, the official opposition would then move to a vote of no confidence in order to try to trigger a general election. That Labour now say that they will delay, this reflects their ongoing reluctance to come off the fence on the issue of a People's Vote, as they have long promised their members that they would move to back such a vote if their bid to trigger an election failed.

The simple reality of the situation we face is that both the main political parties are divided on Brexit. The same is true of our country, this constituency, communities and even within families.

Parliament has reached gridlock, with no majority in support of any of the options, not for the Prime Minister's compromise, not for the softest 'Norway' style Brexit, with or without a customs union, not for a Canada style free trade agreement and least of all, because of the scale of the consequences, for No Deal without any transition.

Once the approval motion falls, it is likely that the PM will try to seek further concessions from the EU but their position has remained united and that looks unlikely. Coming back to the Commons with cosmetic warm words will not yield a different result.

The fact is that this negotiation was always going to be far tougher than was claimed during the referendum campaign in 2016. Far from being 'the easiest deal in human history', breaking away from more than four decades of close ties will leave Britain poorer and more isolated. Brexit is about far more than free trade deals or being in the fourth division trading on WTO rules.

The uncomfortable Brexit reality is set out in the WA and FF, full of trade-offs, compromises and future uncertainties that please no one. If agreed this wouldn't end the wrangling, the real negotiations about our future relationship would just be beginning as set out in the 26 page wish list of the Future Framework, but with no leverage on the part of the UK.

I cannot support it for that reason, but also because I do not think it has the valid consent of the British people. At the time of the original referendum, Brexit was sold on a false prospectus of unrealistic promises and at a time when no one could say which of the many versions would be the final outcome. We now know what Brexit looks like and people are in a position to weigh up the risks and benefits of the negotiated deal as opposed to unrealistic promises that cannot be delivered. Rather than plunge us into weeks of constitutional crisis or risk crashing out with no deal or transition, I hope the PM will take her deal to the people with a simple question about whether they wish to proceed on these terms or stick with the deal we already have. I will be supporting a People's Vote.

4 comments

To paraphrase your own parties mantra, which you stood on at the last ill-advised election.. No Government is better than a Bad Government..
- Giles, Paignton

Sarah, much is made of you following your conscience on the matter of our relationship with the EU. Your contract with those that voted for you and 'your' party was based on what you had said and the Conservative manifesto. You have renaged on both, undermining our negotiating position........ If you do indeed have a conscience you should resign forthwith and stand as an Independent, you'll no longer get our vote by weasel words and smoke and mirrors.
- John

Sarah, You talk of the people’s vote, what about your constituents who put you into parliament ? We have already voted. Are you saying we are uninformed? A very patronising view. If you have changed your views and want to vote to stay in, to a Europe who are making sure it’s as difficult to leave as possible as a ‘lesson’ to other nations disgruntled, then put your seat to the members of your own constituency. That’s as much democracy as the people’s vote you are championing. If we fail to leave now you are promoting a nation to be in an organisation that will keep kicking us and we will have zero teeth. Your view is also a real kick in the teeth for Brixham and it’s fishermen who brave dangerous work place. Be careful what you wish for and be democratic, poll your constituents first before you promote the ‘people’s vote’. But you won’t do that will you. The only thing I will agree with is the support of the prime minister. The Conservative party...no others! mess. Cameron wanted power and sold out to keep his personal ambitions. Then runs away. Then the prime minister called an election, again to put down her own party ‘rebels’ not the opposition and that failed. Since then though she has sought to deliver to peoples vote to leave, unlike you who has chan ged your mind. Support the prime minster and her deal. Your as much to blame for putting the prime minister under the pressure she is under.
- Mike Freeman

I am pleased that you are taking a principalled stance in holding out for a People’s vote. Now that the government is falling apart, not able to find any way forward , it time for us, the people, to have the final say on our future. That would be democracy. We now know the facts and the implications of Brexit, economically, socially and politically, this is what we need to vote on, not the lies and misinformation we were fed the first time around.
- Helen Petit

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28 NOV 2018

It is time for a Peoples Vote. Without informed consent to the final version of Brexit there is no valid consent

The message from clinicians and scientists is clear; Brexit is bad for our health. It will be harmful for people who rely on the NHS, research, social care and public health as well as for the workforce on which these depend. Having listened to the evidence presented to the Health and Social Care Committee in Parliament over the past couple of years, I cannot remain silent about the impact this will have on the communities I was elected to represent, especially in the event of a chaotic exit with no deal and no transition. Hard Brexit in particular would knowingly, and avoidably, inflict reckless damage to the close partnerships, built up over decades, in place at every stage from research and development to medicines and devices arriving on the community pharmacy or hospital shelf.

There is no version of Brexit which will benefit the NHS, social care, public health or our life sciences sector, only varying degrees of harm. This, together with the wider economic fallout from Brexit, will have the hardest impact on the most disadvantaged in society. We would not be insulated from the economic damage here in Devon.

Brexit reality is vastly different to the fantasy Brexit miss-sold to the public during the referendum campaign. The promise on the side of the bus of an extra £350m per week has crashed into the inconvenient truth that there is no Brexit bonanza for the NHS, only a Brexit penalty. A new report, Brexit and the Health and Social Care Workforce in the UK - by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) - also highlights the vital role of EEA nationals across social care as well as the NHS, and the scale of the threat to recruitment and retention as a result of Brexit.

It is likely that there will be provision for doctors and nurses coming to the UK after Brexit, albeit at extra cost and bureaucracy, if the government follows the guidance of the Migration Advisory Committee. But the effect on the social care workforce and those who rely on them for care will be particularly serious because of the salary threshold of £30,000. We already have a serious shortfall of healthcare assistants in social care in our area. We cannot afford to lose or further demoralise those who have given so much to our health and care services.

Brexit is major constitutional, economic and social surgery and we are all being wheeled into the operating theatre on the basis of a vague consent form signed over two years ago when no one knew which of the many versions of Brexit would be taken forward. It is time to insist that our politicians apply the principle of informed consent. The Withdrawal Agreement has been published alongside a draft Future Framework for our relationship with the EU after Brexit. Only now can we properly weigh up the risks and benefits of the proposed surgery rather than the fantasy Brexit touted in the referendum. Parliament is in gridlock and there is no majority for any of the options. It is wholly disingenuous for Mr Corbyn or the right wing of the Tory Party to pretend that they could negotiate a better deal with less than 130 days until we could end up crashing out with no deal and no transition. Neither will an irresponsible leadership challenge help in such a moment of national crisis.

The Government needs to recognise the stalemate and suspend Article 50 to allow the public their say on the only realistic deal that could be negotiated. That People's Vote should include the option to remain in the EU.

People may come to the same conclusion to leave the European Union. To proceed without informed consent, however, would not only be grossly unethical, it would also place the blame for the unintended consequences squarely at the feet of all those politicians from across both main Parties who allowed it to happen.

Alongside a group of current and former clinicians in Parliament, I plan to bring forward an 'informed consent' amendment to the 'meaningful vote' approval motion on the final deal that would make the deal conditional on a People's Vote. It is not acceptable for MPs to sit on the sidelines claiming that the people have already delivered their verdict. Without informed consent there is no valid consent.

34 comments

Oh dear! Don’t know what to say! Buzz words “informed consent”, “Peoples Vote” etc. etc. All code for “We don’t like what you said so we are going to do everything we can to make you to change your mind”. I believe anyone who wanted to be was well informed – Mr Cameron and Mr Osbourne made clear what voting Leave meant. Mr Carney made clear the likely outcome on the economy. Yet the majority still voted to leave. If our MPs stopped to reflect and understand why people voted to leave instead of blaming the other side for the ‘exaggerations’ made by both sides (and continuing to be made), perhaps we would have made some progress. We trusted our representatives to get on with it – the Conservative manifesto was clear (as was the opposition manifesto) and was the contract between us, the electorate, and our representatives. The argument should be over – we decided to leave. If we wanted to remain, the Liberal Democrat manifesto was also clear. We voted to leave, we voted for the two biggest parties whose manifestos promised that we would leave. Now we want a third “Peoples Vote” because we didn’t give the right answer in the first two. What has democracy come to? If our elected representatives fail to represent us and honour their contract, why do we vote? It’s a crying shame what we have come to! Yes there will be bumps in the road and challenges. I left the safety of secure employment to set up on my own so know that feeling. We are resourceful and with the right leadership will succeed. If we had got on with it from the start, rather than going over old arguments, we would have been most of the way to addressing the challenges we will face.
- Patrick, Brixham

There is only one trade deal that would be acceptable to me and I suspect over 17 million people that voted for Brexit, in the face of Project Fear and that is the Canada plus, plus that we set out to negotiate in the first place. While this and all other versions of Brexit comes with a short term economic impact in the medium and longer term this will be more than compensated for when new trade deals with the Asia Pacific, US and other countries are in place. With respect we do NOT need another referendum when the first one is NOT being delivered by MP's, many of whom are in the remain camp and are STILL refusing to accept the original referendum result. Theresa May's shambolic deal needs to be rejected for the betrayal that it is and the text amended to retain good things that have been agreed covering citizens rights, defence and security and a Canada plus, plus agreement made. This delivers the Brexit I and millions of others voted for and gives true soveriegnty back to our Parliament, where it belongs.
- David H

When does Totnes get to give its informed consent for Sarah Wollaston to continue be our MP?
- George, Paignton

Here we go again, more project fear from Remoaner in chief, who does not believe in democracy and will not accept the will of the majority of British people All the usual buzzwords and phrases being rolled out. We`ve already had the people's vote and we voted to leave the EU governed by unelected bureaucrats. I notice SW uses the term `hard` brexit when the term should be `clean` Brexit. I`m fed up of being told I did not know what I was voting for. We had months and months of debate prior to the vote and the options were very clear. This current bunch of 650 MP`s (apart from about 40) are a complete and utter disgrace who I would not trust to run a bath , never mind the country. MP`s cannot have much faith in their own abilities if they are now afraid to govern a sovereign , successful, free trading nation with wonderful opportunities ahead. To add to my woes I have recently moved down to the area and was convinced and hopeful that Kevin Foster was my MP to represent only to find out it`s the dreadful Sarah Wollaston.
- Fred Paignton

Sarah, your constituents have voted overwhelmingly voted to leave the United States of Europe. Are you going to represent us or continue to fly in the face of democracy ?
- Debbie, Totnes

It appears that MPs are overwhelming opposed to Mrs May’s fake Brexit. Are you seriously proposing that if the House votes against, the decision could then be overturned by a people’s vote? If the only deal on offer is unacceptable, the choice is binary: in or out, and We the People have already decided. Please do your duty, and fulfill your manifesto pledge.
- John

I am delighted with your stand. The Leave Campaign sold a lie to the British people. Now that we know what we would get from Brexit, the people deserve a chance to think again. Well done Doctor!
- Peter

Remember that your vision or strategy should be to prevent a Corbyn Government. That is a far more serious threat to the well being of the UK than leaving The EU. Corbyn and McDonnell cannot be allowed anywhere near the Government as both are anti EU and would bankrupt the Country. They see the EU as being a neo liberal construct formed by an elite. Remember that. History will not view you in a positive light if the he destorys the econony. We cannot go back. We had the vote and the people spoke. If we stay in the EU we will lose our rebate and be dragged into ever closer Union. And an Euro Army beckons. I was a remainer but not now. I have to follow the democratic vote from 2016. So should you.
- Andy Totnes

Your whole stance appears to be based solely on the possible effects of Brexit on the workings of the NHS which is unsurprising as a GP. Your constituency contains Brixham who's whole livelyhood depends on fishing and the restrictions applied to them of the CFP. Would this not be a more pertinent sector to concern yourself with?
- Mark Dartmouth

The Referendum result was to leave, the Government to work for a best deal. Implementation was in the hands of Remainers who have engineered a bad deal in the hope to overturn the result. Sore losers. Time for a new leader to renegotiate with the EU, yes, of course they will, they have to. All undemocratic MPs like Sarah Wollaston, who voted with the intention of ignoring the result if they lost, should resign or await deselection.
- John

All we hear from Remain MPs is one deception heaped upon another. We were told this morning from the Culture secretary that we have three choices in fron of us. Accept the dreadful withdrawal agreement negotiated by Theresa May, leave the EU without a deal or have a second referendum. This is a deception and a barefaced LIE! The choices are clear if the PM does not see the futility of her position. We must vote down her deal and either leave with no deal, which gives us back a free and democratic country, or we have further discussion with the EU about a Canada plus style deal which those producing dodgy economic forecasts are deliberately avoiding. I don't buy their public statements that there will be no further discussion as they need a sensible trade deal just as much as we do. No amount of scaremongering will make me change my position. Either MPs respect the referendum result and support the decision to leave or the Conservative Party is finished, it is that simple. Furthermore Theresa May keeps saying she has secured a deal with the EU when anyone with half a brain can see she has nothing of the sort. Discussion of a deal only starts once we have left the EU and as the latest Cabinet Minister to resign has said if the withdrawal agreement is approved this country will be HAMMERED by the EU. The deception must end and the withdrawal agreement must be rejected. Only no deal or a Canada plus deal delivers on the referendum result.
- David H

as Liam Fox says, half the time the people and their MPs do not understand that we need a Withdrawal Agreement before ANY KIND of trade deal can be negotiated - whatever that may be. Quote: “Whatever deal we want to have in future still requires a Withdrawal Agreement. This is something people don’t seem to be grasping. Whether it’s the deal that the prime minister has set out for leaving the EU, or the Norway style, or the Canada FTA; they still require the Withdrawal Agreement.” So, we still require the Withdrawal Agreement before we get to the Canada FTA - our future TRADE DEAL as roughly outlined in the 26-page Political Statement tagged onto the Withdrawal Agreement. This is STILL to be finalised in the 2 - 4 years of the transition period (hopefully 2 years at most). All of this is much too much for Labour, SNP or the DUP members to understand it seems. Only the Labour Brexiteers have an inkling what Brexit actually means, but even Kate Hooey looks to be stumbling. She should have consulted Dr Fox... All this CR*P about a "peoples' Vote or a new EU-Referendum" will merely DELAY our Trade Deal negotiations and that could be crucial to a good Brexit. I'm not sure that even RED-Labour realises that. Their aim of course, is to take over from the Conservative Government in a G.E but little do they anticipate a groundswell of support for the PM Theresa May, a lot coming from Labour Leave voters and Jeremy Corbyn, before he was influenced by Seumus Milne his new Commie best friend and/or Marxist hanger-on McDonnell, to vote against the WA.
- Janet TT

We were sold lies in the first referendum . This is now so obvious that even ardent Brexiteers would be pretty blind or just plain stubborn not to accept they were lies . T May tried to get a better majority , and lost it it even then , ie the people actually did not support her Brexit . The government has only been functioning because of the effective ‘bribe’ in giving £ 1 Billion extra spending in Northern Ireland in return for 10 DUP votes to keep her goverment afloat . That actually means she had no Mandate . ( leave the fact that she spent my hard earned taxes propping up her government via the DUP deal ) . Now we can all see that the Deal is bad - it was always going to . You cant leave a club without losing benefits of being a Member , despite leading Politicians promising us that we could . TMs deal probably is the best we can get , but I absolutely agree its not good enough . I employ 50 staff . We are one of the few manufacturing companies in the UK and fewer still that export . I am told that the WTO tariiffs I will face will be outweighed by the amazing deals we will get in countries that are not as close geographically and that we deal little with at the moment . I frankly do not believe that . I am not alone , the government own figures tell us that these deals may only add 0.2% to GDP . So we now know so much more about the facts that the only reasonable and in fact honest and Democratic choice is a Second ( Thruthful ) Referendum . We were lied to. The first Referendum was therefore not Democratic. If politicians lie , the people in effect become puppets of those lies , it was not Democratoc at all. Repeated reference to that as ‘ the People have decided” is not only ignorant it is perpetuating dishonesty in Politics - and its Teresa May who is still beating that dishonest drum. The “leader” is perpetuating a lie, on behalf of the likes of Boris Johnson and Rees Mog. I was a true Conservative but its really difficult (almost impossible) to have any faith in that dogma . However I do believe that our Sarah Wollaston is an extraordinary MP to push for a correction in the Tory dogma and begin to restore our faith in Tory politics. A Truthful Second Referendum , but to get that universally accepted by Brexiters we have to out the liars - and that is Taking the precious time that we dont have much of .
- G David

I support your principled stand Dr Wollaston. I am appalled by the insults lobbed at you in the comments above by people who cannot distinguish between debate and rant. I find it bizarre that those in the Leave campaign will not simply accept that we were missold Brexit when the fact of that stares us in the face. No amount of justification based on selective facts will change that. Do you Brexiteers not understand the catastrophe that will result if we implement the dogs breakfast of a plan that your leaders have prepared for us. They had free rein to create and deliver what they promised and instead have come up with this. There is no solution to the Irish Border; no solution to the decimation to British Industry that will result from the removal of easy to pass borders; no solution to the immigration 'problem'. Just a vastly demeaned and impoverished country trying to tell itself it now has 'control'. Please come back to the real world, Brexiteers. Leave your fantasies. Stop this madness. We need you to help us get out of this mess.
- Peter Scott

Peter, I keep hearing that we didn’t know what we were voting for – that we were missold BREXIT. The truth is that the facts are out there if you want to find them. I mean real facts – not “decimation to British Industry”, “no solution to immigration” or “no solution to the Irish Border”. However, I completely agree with you on the “dogs breakfast of a plan” drawn up and will fully support Dr Wollaston should she vote against it. However, a real fact – this was not by a “BREXIT leader” as you suggest, but by someone firmly in the Remain camp! I admire the principled stand made by Dr Wollaston– although I do not agree with it. I don’t see lots of abuse above as you do– just a degree of frustration with the current situation and an electorate who wish they had understood these views before the last General Election. When can we really trust politicians to tell us the complete truth – only selective information that supports their view? This has always been the case. For example, let’s look at some real facts – YES, we hear a lot about the fact that nearly half (44%) of UK exports in goods and services went to other countries in the EU in 2017. However, the rest of the EU as a whole sells a lot more to us than we sell to it – in fact, 23 of the 27 countries sell more to us than we do to them. As an example, Germany sold us over £20bn more than we sold them. Overall, the EU sold around £70bn more to us than we did to them – figures vary slightly from one website to another but are all of this magnitude. The only country with a significant balance of trade in our favour is Ireland. Think about it – that is a strong position to be able to negotiate from! Why would Germany want to put trade barriers and tariffs in place? Lots more examples like this if you want to look. I base my decision on a number of factors and not the selective ‘truths’ (or what some people call lies) of either side – whether it be the £350 million for the NHS or the total collapse of the economy (and everything else it seemed) if we dared vote for BREXIT. Let’s just get on and implement the outcome of the referendum and negotiate from a position of strength as the trade figures above suggest we should be able to. Such incompetence and infighting in government can only lead to the conclusion that the majority of our political representatives (apart from a few) have never had the intention of acting on the outcome of the referendum – so came up with a ‘deal’ so bad that it is rejected out of hand and then seek to manipulate the outcome of a second referendum by the choices given to ensure that we give the right answer this time. It is all so disappointing from a democracy point of view! I am probably wasting my breath here as we have all already made up our minds!
- Patrick, Brixham

Peter above. More marks for comedy than cohesion in that argument. Seriously, get a grip. "I support your principled stand Dr Wollaston"...this is Sarah Wollaston? An MP who initially stood for election in 2015 on a pledge to have an EU referendum. When her party won this election, she voted to have a referendum. She initially advocated a Leave vote, consistently tweeting messages about the Brussels kleptocracy and how undemocratic the EU was. Then she converted, miraculously advocating a Remain vote just weeks before the vote. She then pivoted, supporting a party pledging to honour the referendum vote and withdraw us from the Customs Union and Single Market. Then she advocated a "People's Vote" (as if we haven't had one). She is many things (most far more insulting than any comments above you claim to be so offended by). But PRINCIPLED?! Are you having a laugh? "They (presumably he means Brexiteers) had free rein to create and deliver what they promised and instead have come up with this". Really? We've had a Remainer as PM. All of the Ministries of State are occupied by Remainers. PM, Chancellor, Foreign Sec, Home Sec, Deputy PM. Civil Service entirely dominated by Remainers. Again, not really backed by the facts. "There is no solution to the Irish Border". Aside from the solutions that any other countries with borders have? The previous Irish government of Enda Kenny did not raise this issue. The EU has used this issue to meddle in the NI Peace process, aided by a very anti-unionist Varadkhar government in Dublin. The EU used this issue to hijack and break these talks. Remainers have enthusiastically used this issue to thwart the referendum result of 2016. Colluding with a hostile foreign government to weaken the British negotiating position...almost the definition of a Fifth Column. No wonder EU enthusiasts have such a job in convincing people that they have any affection for Britain. "Please come back to the real world". Oh the irony. Why don't you take that advice yourself?
- George, Paignton

I am in your constituency but did not vote Tory. As a Lib Dem I am very pleased that you have changed your mind about Brexit. Changing your mind after more information becomes available is a democratic right and common sense. Please carry on backing another vote. The disaster of Brexit must be stopped.
- Susan. Paignton

I voted to remain in the EU as did the majority of people in the South Hams! I have seen nothing to change my opinion and I’m not sure that a second vote is necessarily the right thing. I hope that you vote for the deal that’s on the table as I dread to think what will happen if we leave with no deal. I worked in the NHS for over 20years and was not taken in by the pledge on the side of a bus or indeed anything else that was said by those Brexiteers who turned tail and ran away when they got what they wanted! Well done Theresa for taking on the job!
- Carole

If by informed you mean acknowledging both the poisitves as well as the negatives of the UK leaving the EU, then as somene who only focuses on the negatives, I'm not entirely sure you are qualified to impose such a decision on us. And isnt this at the numb of the argument. My firm believe is the government, servants of the people, should in 2016 have remained non-partisan, presenting a co-herent argument both for why we should stay and why we should leave. Instead it was a free-for-all, with both sides indulging in slightly misleading information. So the population had to filter all this 'noise' whilst being told time and time again... you have this one go. No re-runs. No second chances. So, how do you think people reacted to this? After weeks of TV debates, MSM reporting, you honestly believe people made their mind up on catching sight of a bus with a number on the side... or the endless 'cliff-edge' scenaros? Let alone your change of sides days, with the coordinated MSM coverage? And since we are talking about informed... perhaps you'd like to explain how you envisage the EU will developing over the coming 5, 10, 15 years? As someone who had to provide a brief to a multi-national business on the Maastricht treaty, I distinctly recall identifying it as a one-way street to a Federal Europe. Something subsequent treaties have built on. So please, lets be honest here. During this informed vote, are you going to stand up and tell the people of the UK what staying will entail? ie The true cost.
- Stuart Price

I wholeheartedly agree with Sarah's views. I think Brexit will be a disaster. I voted remain but I had no idea of the chaos it would cause and therefore I doubt that anyone else did. We were fed a load of lies by the Leave campaign. The Remain campaign was frankly poor and I think they were convinced the result would be to stay that they didn't try hard enough. I think we need a second referendum. The first one was very close. I think we should have a second one to check that the first represents the (now) informed opinion of the people. I will accept the second result.
- Simon Lansdown

Like Simon, I'm in compete agreement with Sarah's views. As the Leave campaign was full of non- or even misinformation (and the Remain campaign was scarcely a campaign), it is time to ask a (little) more-informed voting public what they think. Now we have more of an idea of how any Brexit will affect aspects of our everyday lives - cost of living, the NHS, the environment, food safety, workers' rights - I hope people will think carefully about the whole idea rather than one or two aspects that appeal to them.
- Morgaine

Anyone that thinks a betrayal of 17.4 million people that voted to LEAVE the EU in the face of 'project fear' will get them re-elected is living in cloud cuckoo land! The current Withdrawal Agreement needs to be rejected and we need to go back to the EU with a very clear message that there is no agreement while the 'backstop' remains. They clearly wan't to keep this 'trump card' so they can blackmail us with it again during the future trade negotiations and it MUST be withdrawn. If it is successfully removed we can then enter trade negotiations with the EU on an equal footing, without blackmail. An approval of the current agreement will only lead to a Labour Government under Jeremy Corbyn and a massive increase in political discontent among the British People. If Theresa May does lose the vote next week, and I certainly hope she does, we certainly do NOT need second referendum as the decision to LEAVE has already been taken.
- David H

Unfortunately Sarah is ignorant of her responsibilty as our representative in Parliament, it is not a playplace for her conscience. She was elected as a member of the Conservative party and she had a contract with us but she has undermined the party on whose back she was elected. Of course she is entitled to her views but should stand as an Independent !
- John

As matters in Parliament move at a pace the suggestion of a second referendum supported by Sarah has one major flaw. No one has put forward a credible suggestion as to what we would exactly be voting for . Mrs Mays deal is fatally flawed because of the backstop, No Deal we are told will be voted out as an option by Parliament . So Sarah please tell us realistically What ? will the question be on the Ballot paper. We have already voted on Leave or Remain. Leave won which you promised to honour in the last Conservative manifesto as did Labour. Time is running out. May I suggest you all get together to sort out a workable and fair Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Framework with the EU and get on with negotiating Brexit as you promised. Now is not the time for another vote
- Andrea

The problem with a second vote is we don't know what the question should be. I think the best solution now as the deal is certain to be rejected is to withdraw article 50. We can then have a proper debate without being under a very restricted time limit to plan where we go next. One thing is clear, article 50 was triggered and the negotiations were started before anyone had a coherent plan of what we wanted to achieve. Only when you know your preferred outcome can you start to negotiate. When we have a firm idea of what the possible outcomes are, then we can have another vote. Oh and next time let's have a tighter control on who is paying the campaign bills.
- Bob

The problem with a second vote is that we've already had one. Remainers are struggling to find ways to nullify the first result, supported by the dark establishment. The Scottish referendum result, Welsh devolution referendum with a 51% turnout won by 0.7%, voting system referendum result; all accepted without a murmer. The 2016 Referendum had over 70% turnout and won by 3.8%, there are over 40 MPs who won by a smaller margin, no call for a second vote. The reason, that's how a democracy has to work, you have to accept the result. Please take note Sarah !
- John

I live in your constituency and I fully support your position as we approach these critical few days for the future of our country. The democratic principle is crystal clear and the terms of Brexit should be put to the British people to decide whether to proceed on those terms or to keep the current deal we have as a member of the EU. Thank you Sarah!
- Tom

The fact that Sarah Wollaston has changed her mind on Brexit is not evidence that she is unprincipled, unless that principle be that it’s wrong ever to change your mind. Be wary of high principles in politics; they are often used to justify simplistic and uncharitable policies (left or right). I value kindness, compassion, and a willingness to compromise and to alter your views when the facts change or when you become better acquainted with them. I’ve seen that in bucket-loads in Sarah Wollaston. She is a fine MP. I’ve never been a Tory voter, but I might just change my mind if Sarah stands again. Keep up the good work, Sarah.
- Tim, South Milton

Patrick from Brixham said that Canada-plus-plus would “deliver the Brexit I and millions of others voted for”. That may be true, but the reasons for voting leave were many and varied. About a third of leave voters simply want to curb immigration (but many other leavers are unconcerned about levels of immigration); another large minority were attracted by the idea that we’d be richer outside the EU and were swayed by the promise of an extra £350m to spend on the NHS (while other more economically-savvy leave voters realised this was nonsense); some libertarians simply want to have complete control of our laws, come what may (but EU regulations do not particularly bother other leave voters); another group, especially in poorer areas, were fed up of eight years of austerity and falling living standards and thought Brexit might be a way out; others still were fed up of being ignored by the liberal elites, and were simply lashing out at those in power. Whatever reasons people had for voting leave or remain, what was not on the ballot paper was the form Brexit would take; Switzerland-, Norway- and Canada-style arrangements, as well as Brexit to WTO rules, were all mooted but none was settled on. No particular vision of Britain after Brexit was properly explained and agreed on - beyond the fairly meaningless but brilliant slogan ‘Take back control’. Furthermore, the referendum was advisory but the government chose to treat the result as a political mandate. This is important. I think it was a mistake and undemocratic, and should have been challenged then and still should be. If the referendum result had been clearer, it would probably have been fine. But the margin of victory was narrow, with only 37% of the whole electorate voting for Brexit, and a slightly smaller percentage voting against; if 500,000 people had voted differently, it would have gone the other way. The country is divided and there is no agreement on what form Brexit should take. We now all know far more about the implications of Brexit, good and bad. It is absolutely not undemocratic nor unconstitutional to call for a second referendum. In fact the idea was first proposed by none other than Jacob Rees-Mogg, who said in a speech in the Commons, “We could have two referendums, and it may make sense to have the second after the renegotiation is completed”, and also by Nigel Farage who, just before the 2016 referendum, said we should have a second referendum if the vote were very close. So, be sensible, stay calm, and be pragmatic; we British are very good at that (or used to be). Don’t shout and rant like IDS did today and threaten civil unrest. That is highly irresponsible and damaging to democracy. Democracy did not end on 23rd June 2016. Don’t be afraid of asking the people again. They are not stupid. If they are adamant that they want Brexit - whether that’s no deal or Theresa’s May’s deal - they will tell us. It should be perfectly possible to come with a fair question or set of questions that leaves all options on the table.
- Tim, South Milton

What would those questions be Tim especially as most MPs and Voters do not agree with Mrs Mays deal as it stands or crashing out with a No Deal. Plus we have to come up with something the EU will agree to and they say the negotiations are over. If there was an easy answer someone would have come up with it after 2 years How will a vote help. If we go back in it will not be business as usual everything has changed. You need something for Leavers to vote for. But of course you probably do not want that.
- Andrea

Good points, Andrea, except for your last little sneer. I do want something for leavers to vote for. I think that binary options (No deal vs May’s deal; Remain vs May’s deal; Remain vs No deal) are fraught with difficulty, but given that we voted to leave in 2016 and that May’s government has agreed a deal with the EU, then a choice between No deal and May’s deal would not be a travesty of democracy or justice. However, as you point out, no one seems to like either of those options; and recent polling suggests there is now a majority for Remain. So it isn’t ideal. We could have a two-stage vote in which we are asked to vote again on whether we want to leave or remain. If we decide to leave, then we have another vote where the choice could perhaps be May’s deal vs No deal. It isn’t easy, it needs debating, and we’d need constitutional experts and independent pollsters to come up with wording that was acceptable to most people. I think it’s possible though, and would lead to a result that was both democratic and binding.
- Tim, South Milton

Congratulations Sarah on your stance for a sensible future for the UK. It is clear that the PM's proposals can satisfy no one - we would be tied too closely to the EU for the hard Brexiteers and we would loose too much for those of us who voted to remain. The question should be put to the people to decide now that the real consequences of leaving the EU are known.
- Peter and Olga, Kellaton

Tim, South Milton - Nowhere did I advocate or suggest a Canada Plus deal or any other deal. The options in the referendum was crystal clear - Leave or Stay. The implications of leaving were spelt out clearly by our then Prime Minister, Chancellor and Head of the Bank of England. As you say, people voted for a variety of reasons but the important fact is that they voted to Leave - I would expect our Government to carry out this out. Any further referendum that gives the option of Remain raises deep questions about our democracy - especially one that carefully selects the question to ensure a 'Remain' answer such as the question proposed by Vince Cable amongst others.
- Patrick, Brixham

Apologies, Patrick. That was "David H" who said that, not you.
- Tim, South Milton

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21 AUG 2018

Informed consent is essential before Brexit surgery

If you were about to undergo surgery, you would expect to know what the operation involved and to be informed about all the risks and benefits. It's called informed consent and no decent surgeon would go ahead without it.

Brexit certainly is major surgery with far-reaching consequences and the government is about to proceed without informed consent.

At the time of the referendum the choice was simply to leave or to remain. The type of Brexit was not on the ballot paper, which is like a surgeon asking their patient to consent to an amputation in two years' time without either of them knowing whether this would involve a few toes or their whole leg.

Voters were assured that this would be the easiest deal in history and that the world, including the EU, would be queuing at our door to trade on our terms. There would be cake and we would be eating it, alongside every fish that swam in our waters.

In the real world, instead of a bespoke deal we are all being marched briskly to the edge of the cliff. No deal and no transition look increasingly likely to be the outcome, and is the preferred option of those MPs who have deliberately and fatally undermined the Chequers plan.

The surgery looks set to be far more radical than anything set out in the referendum and the side-effects and complications of a hard, walk-away, no-deal Brexit with no transition are very different from the promised targeted surgical excision of just the parts of the EU that the Brexiteers didn't like. Shouldn't people have an opportunity to weigh up the risks and benefits before proceeding?

Once we know the final terms there is not just an opportunity but a duty to set out the unintended consequences as well as the potential benefits. There is a compelling case for that to be followed by a people's vote: we have to make it clear to government that it should not embark on potentially ruinous surgery without the informed consent of the British people.

It might be that a majority nevertheless decide to proceed, but there is no democratic mandate for Brexit until the choice is clear and an informed decision can be made. If the hard Brexiteers are confident about their walk-away, no-deal scenario they should be happy to agree.

The polls show that public opinion is turning on Brexit, especially as the sheer scale of the cost and consequences becomes clearer.

No responsible government should countenance deliberately and knowingly inflicting such economic and social harm on its people before at least checking that is what they really wanted.

70 comments

Excuse me, but I would argue that the referendum was a democratic mandate. Only subsequently do the remainers seek to redefine the result. But I have a few questions. Words like cliff edge, disaster, and devastating are all very emotive, and feed into project fear. But what exactly do you predict, and how do you know you are correct? Two world wars were disasters. Chernobyl was a disaster, and the Asian tsunami. Venezuela’s economy is a disaster. What scale of disaster do we face? Will there be a war with Germany over Brexit? Will we see stagflation, a run on the banks, food rationing, another winter of discontent in the spring? Do you think that by spreading panic, talk of stockpiling food and medicine, supermarket shelves will be stripped in a day, you will instigate the disaster you expect, and say “told you so ?
- John Daer

I agree with John as he makes many good points. We will be leaving the EU as was voted for in the referendum. Brexit is extremely popular and there is no turn against Brexit. The economy will reach dizzying highs unknown hitherto after we leave the EU. The EU is like a niggardly old man failing but unable to accept it.
- Derek

To continue Sarah’s analogy the surgeon needs to amputate as much as possible to ensure all affected and diseased parts are removed which will encourage healthy recovery from the problems . Thus Brexit needs to be a clean break to encourage recovery of the economy and a healthy future.
- Derek

It's quite wrong of scientists and businesses to attempt to derail brexit with their demonstrations against it as a democratic vote was taken and everyone had the opportunity to vote on this matter. As the scientific community are supposedly amongst the more intellectual members of our society I would expect they have the necessary intelligence to counter any constraints they may encounter after Brexit. This similarly applies to the business community which needs to adjust in a suitable way to the future as it presents itself after Brexit has taken place.
- Derek

I run a small technology business dealing with both the UK, Europe and the US. The reality is that if I produce the right goods at the right place, it doesn’t matter whether we are in or out of the EU. Successful commercial UK companies will adapt whatever the outcome despite the scare stories – that is why they are successful. There is a bigger principle at stake here – that is democracy. You tweeted a couple of days ago about the “growing prospect of poisonous extremism in power” – I too am extremely worried about this but firmly believe this becomes even more likely when the wishes of the often silent majority are ignored as may now become the case if your way forward comes to pass. You wish for a second vote. A second vote is likely to be structured to ensure that the ‘desired’ outcome is realised. Easily done - for example, have 3 choices – Leave without deal, Leave with deal proposed or Stay in EU – hence splitting the leave vote between two options. So, if we assume voting along the lines of the original vote, an outcome of 48% vote Stay, 26% vote to accept deal and leave, 26% vote to leave without deal would have those who want to Stay proclaim they are the winners – even though 52% still voted to leave! Easily done but hardly democratic! Over half of those who voted will still have voted Leave! A further nail in the coffin for democracy driving reasonable people to vote for more extreme elements in the hope of shaking up the establishment who have failed to listen in a desperate attempt to be heard! I would class myself as a traditional Tory voter – maybe even one of the silent majority. I have voted Conservative at every general election since I was old enough to vote. It is difficult to see how the traditional Tory voter will be able to vote for you at the next General Election with your current stance. If you read this, you may see me as old and out of touch and maybe in a minority of Tory voters, but rest assured, I know exactly what I voted for with Brexit, I am not old and very much in touch with what happens in the real world. But I guess we will what happens at the next election.
- Patrick, Brixham

Absolutely right Patrick. You have absolutely made my day with your splendid comments. Democracy is already a thin veil and we do not want it becoming any thinner by ignoring a majority that voted in favour of Brexit.
- Derek

Hold the line, out is out, we need to escape the moribund megalith. It is way of achieving a European power block run (by others), to achieve control by the largest economy in Europe to ultimately ‘manage’ the smaller/weaker economies of Easter Europe. This has failed militarily twice and will succeed using the European Union as the chosen vehicle to achieve it. We should not be apart of this. Common Market, - yes, Common currency - yes, Co-operation with neighbours - yes, Handing over the keys to the Kingdom - to a third party - NEVER!
- Richard

I am amazed at the tunnel vision of people who say leaving the EU has any benefits for the UK. This nonsense about “taking back control” is just another convenient sound bite for the masses, like “strong and stable”. I’m amazed that so many people can be duped by such ridiculous, vacuous statements, without anything to back it up. Brexit is madness and Dr. Wollaston is right to demand a people’s vote. Those who rattle off another favourite sound bite that Brexit is “the will of the people” to give authority for even a no-deal forget that only 57% of those eligible to vote actually voted in the referendum. And this excludes those under 18’s not allowed to vote. So, at best Brexit is the will of some of the people, the majority of whom were duped by career politicians like Gove, Johnson and co., backed by millionaire businessmen like Farage and Banks, who stand to gain personally financially from getting the UK to leave Europe. It makes no sense to leave and, yes, it will be a disaster for this country. And how ironic that those who say “it’s democracy” don’t want the people to have the final say! I have never voted for the Conservatives, but thank goodness we have a Conservative member of Parliament willing to stand up to the Tory in-fighting on Europe that has gone on for decades and who speaks for the common sense view that we need to stop this madness. Keep going, Sarah, you have plenty of support.
- Kevin, Totnes

I absolutely support your thinking on Brexit, Sarah. Thank you, thank you, thank you! We all need to know what precisely the surgeon is removing and what we will suffer as a consequence. You are a brave woman!
- Greta Jensen

I no longer support a second vote but if there is one the question should be: 1. Should we leave the EU Yes / No 2. If we do leave would you prefer to accept the terms offered? Yes / No Voting No means you support the "No Deal" option Papers are invalidated if both questions are not answered! This will ensure that the decision to leave, or not, is still based on the majority and also gives the people the choice of supporting the negotiated agreement or a "no deal". I am not a great believer in referendums as I have less confidence in "The People's" judgement then you seem to have, but if you trust their judgement then also offer the "no deal" option!
- Mike UK

Sarah, wrong party? Your thinking is rational and clear rather than wrong-headed and driven by a narrow ideology. The Tory party is in pieces and has driven the whole Nation to this absurd historic blunder fundamentally because of internal party squabbling. The 'democratic' vote was a disgrace to the necessary, vital, complex and civilized concept of Democracy. Is this what we think we are exporting to the world? Cynical untruth's, appealing to the more base instincts, promises impossible to keep but who-cares-as-long-as-we-win (something!). Long-time Tory me, I feel sick to think I may have to align myself to this chaos.
- steveK

How right Patrick is. His company will not fall of a cliff edge. He will continue to run his business and probably run it better without interference from the overpaid bureaucrats in Brussels who delight in wasting taxpayers money to ensure they maintain their splendid life style. Out means out, hardly difficult to understand and that is what the majority of the Totnes constituency voted for. We do not need another referendum or vote to trawl through the terms and our MP should recognise that fact. World Trade terms will be perfectly satisfactory and at the same time saves a large and unnecessary Billions of pounds payment to the EU. At the same time we can get our fishing back which it is not difficult to see would be the pawn to give away in some dreadful Chequers type deal.
- Graham

I am very much one of the Silent Majority. I voted Remain and have never seen or heard anything to make me change that opinion. I can only thank Sarah not only for all the work she has done in our constituency throughout the holidays but for her wise comments and action in suggesting we think again before Brexit.
- June

"Take back control" is good. That, surely, means that the people of the country take back control and make an INFORMED decision - not that a small group of public schoolboys make our decisions for us. As David Davis has said, "A Democracy that can't change it's mind is no longer a Democracy."
- Bob

The country is not run through referenda, but by elected mp s. and the process of parliament. But parliament has seccumbed to endless in fighting and the peddling of falsehoods. Leaving without a deal would be a disaster, and should be at leadt posponed until some clarity amidst the confusion which the process has engendered has subsided. Far from being a bold decision leaving especially without a clear deal is a cowardly and misguided journey into myth and idiology, of a few not a majority in parliament. Thank goodness our MP has come to see this, and is couragious enough to say so. Let us support her!
- bernard

Dr Wolloaston has lost my confidence and my vote. Given the dreadful state of UK politics, it will hard to find someone to vote for at the next election.
- Rob J

I felt very much informed as to the risks of Brexit. Every house had one of these documents sent to it. Despite this 54% of the Constituency voted leave. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/515068/why-the-government-believes-that-voting-to-remain-in-the-european-union-is-the-best-decision-for-the-uk.pdf
- Tim Harvey

Sarah`s analogy of Informed Consent to Leaving the EU is flawed, she must know this.. At best Informed Consent gives hope, certainly not a guarantee of outcome. It`s playing with words by a Remainer who cannot accept the result of The Referendum. Staying or Leaving we don`t know the position in 5 years time, the hope is for something better outside the EU structure than inside.
- John

"Out means out" is not an argument. The Brexit issue is not a game of cricket with a winning side and a losing side which should concede graciously. I have yet to hear which specific laws from Brussels are oppressing our freedoms and will be repealed to our general benefit, or see any figures put on the financial gains which we are promised will arise from no-deal Brexit. The majority of the Leave arguments have been ill-disguised appeals to emotions. I sympathize with my fellow Britons who feel that their country has been sold from under their feet and believe that the impact of Freedom of Movement, for instance, has been ignored by those who most obviously benefit from it (employers, businesses) at the emotional expense of those who live with the effects of it, in a changed daily living-environment. But this shambolic, hard-right driven Little England crusade is cutting off our faces to spite our noses. Thanks for your Economic logic and political insight, Sarah.
- Julian

I have never voted Conservative, and the current attempt by a reckless minority of self-serving Tory MPs to promote a hard Brexit agenda, interpreting an ambiguous referendum in an uncompromising and one-sided pursuit of recreating past glories re-confirms my natural antipathy - but I WOULD vote for Sarah Wollaston, because she is not like the rest of her party. She is a courageous and independent minded voice of reason, and on this issue she is right yet again. Democracy is not a once in a lifetime snapshot of opinion on an unknown outcome; it is a process of debate and compromise, constantly taking the pulse of what is good, right and acceptable. We did not know what outcome we were being asked to accept in the referendum vote. Once we know what kind of outcome is being proposed we should be able to vote on that.
- Simon, Totnes

All these sound bites offered by politicians and grabbed by the media and the public. What is project fear and who is conducting this so called project? Perhaps we should label the Brexiteers predicted economic wonders of leaving the EU as Project Fantasy. A pro Brexit MP recently said how that when we leave the EU food prices will fall dramatically, well that depends upon our currency not suffering a further loss of value. Also how are cheap imports of food good for our farming industry and where is the added value to the economy? Is it with more households spend on even more imports?
- Nick

At the referendum we were given two options leave or remain, leave campaign telling us that we would see no difference on leaving plus the famous £350m a week going into the NHS, now the leavers all tell a very different story and we here constant doom prediction. I voted remain and have seen nothing to change my onion, but the reality is that this country has voted to leave but from what I understand we are not actually leaving or staying, this is not an outcome that either side voted for so we must have a peoples vote on whatever is agreed in the final negotiations, this must give three options. 1 Accept agreement and leave on these terms. 2. Reject agreement and leave (Hard Brexit) 3.Reject agreement and remain within the EU This is the only democratic way to proceed with this decision which will dramatically effect all our lives for years to come.
- Ray Wakelin

I was given the option of leave or remain, if the vote was to leave the Government would implement the decision. This must be done failing which we have no democracy. We have to give it a go, if we don't like it we can apply to rejoin !
- John

As a long time labour/socialist voter ( I am 86!!) ,no hope in Totnes, I can only reiterate June's comments. Sarah has bravely tried to do her best for us in this Tory Government .Thank you Sarah.If only we had LibDem government??? Devon for Europe!! Here is hopeing!
- helen lindsay

If we had a Lib Dem government as Helen suggests we would not have to worry about Brexit causing a collapse of the British economy . The Lib Dems would manage to destroy the economy with or without Brexit. We voted to leave and that's exactly what we will be doing.
- Derek

Derek [and others who still support Brexit but get angry about a Second Referendum ] , What have you got to be afraid of if we have a Second Referendum ? . Its still a Democracy if the votes are counted fairly and the question we are Voting on is answered after hearing facts . I am sure you remember that we were told by UKIP that "Turkey would join the EU by 2020 and that as many as 15 million people would leave the country for the EU in the first ten years of its membership". That and other 'untruths' have since been seen to be untruths . So in Sarah Wollastons analogy , if we in fact found that the Doctors had thought, in 2016 that a left toe on the LEFT foot was to be amputated but now in 2018 the FACT was that it was a RIGHT leg that needed to go , would you not ask for a Second opinion at the very least and then also demand that you could change your mind on the decision you made to cut of your small right toe when asked in 2016 ? If not surely you will lose both . - that sounds idiotic to me . David Davis [ an ardent Brexiteer] has said, "A Democracy that can't change it's mind is no longer a Democracy." Additionally - Another likely outcome if you dont chose to support a Second referendum is there will certainly be a General Election and then all bets are off as to our future with a Corbyn government. so cut the emotion and read the facts
- only for SW will I continue to vote Tory

Are you aware that Fishing quotas can be sold and in fact many have been to other European operators so its plain wrong to think that Brexit will return these Quotas to UK control .
- a reply to getting our fishing back

Now that everything is falling apart, it makes sense more than ever to have a final, people’s vote. That is democracy! Macron was right when he spoke out this week saying that Britain had been conned by lies into thinking it should leave the EU. All power to Sarah who is standing up for what is right and fair.
- Helen Petit

If only for SW will I continue to vote Tory thinks another vote on Brexit is democratic what happened to the democratic vote we undertook in 2016. Only ditherers change their minds continuously at every twist and turn because they lack the intelligence to explore the facts. If the strangely named "Only for SW will I continue to vote Tory" had managed to make its mind up in 2016 there would be no need to waste more taxpayers money on another referendum. To continue Sarah’s analogy if the surgeon was unable to make a definitive decision and stand by that decision where will we be? I suspect there must be unpalatable decisions taken by surgeons everyday and these things can go wrong but mistakes can and will be made unless one stands by their decisions. Surgeons and Doctors do not know everything and cannot forsee every possible outcome and neither can politicians or businesses. I believe we have heard all the scaremongering from remainers over the years many times whenever there is a worry like the millennium bug etc ad nauseum. I actually believe that if we do not leave the EU we will see satellites fall from the skies and little pink pixies at the bottom of the garden. Cars will refuse to start ,washing machines will explode and catch fire and the police will experience cutbacks and pigs will fly. Actually some of these things already happen so that's proof we must leave the EU before all the other things start to happen and we all go crackers. That's already happended too.
- Derek

Leaving the EU will be like waking in a nice warm cosy bed after a successful operation. Staying in the EU will be like ending up on a cold mortuary slab after an unsuccessful operation.
- Derek

Let's not forget Sarah Wollaston was elected on a false prospectus, in a constituency voting 54% to 'Leave the EU'. With this in mind should she not tender her resignation or be deselected ?
- John

Sarah stopped being my MP when she stopped recognising the manifesto upon which she was elected. After having previously supported her personally, I can now say that I was conned by a liar. I will be voting for Johnson in the forthcoming leadership election, and look forward to Sarah either leaving the party or being removed.
- George, Paignton

I see the rentamob brexiteers from boriscentral are out in force. We were lied to in the referendum campaign and we are still being lied to. Brexit could be a disaster and we ought to be given the chance to look at what the deal will be and decide then.
- Bob

Fair comment. Is there any progress on how a customs union could be incorporated ? this seems cornerstone
- Karen

I see the rentamob remainers are kicking back with no real positive suggestions to support their views. This is usually the case with people that have been indoctrinated with ideas that are not their own. Remainers please wake up and understand we voted to leave the ailing EU and that is precisely what we will be doing.
- Derek

I totally agree with Sarah and support her view. We were sold a pig in a poke and deserve a real vote where we know what we are voting for.
- Pat

We had a vote . Voting took place a few years ago.In case you forgot we voted to leave the ailing EU. Please get with it.
- Derek

Brexit cost the tax payer £500 billion at the referendum to stop the economy crashing, which the common person has to pay back to the Bank of England. Brexiteers do not even know this. Brexit with no customs union will cost the NHS England £124 million a day, 7 days a week in tariffs as we buy most medicines from the EU, we cannot make them ourselves. That is double the mere cost (47p each per week) to be in the EU falsely claimed by Boris Johnson on the side of the red bus. Half our membership is actually spent on us in this country building our roads, hospitals, bypasses etc. MEMBERSHIP PAYS. Each week is costing us one billion poinds in bad exchange rates, endless talks and not including lost business. Brexit wil mean people will have to pay 28%-88 tariffs on foodstuffs to and from the EU. That is 94% of all Welsh food and drink, similar amounts of Irish and Scottish farming produce. It will be uncompetitive. You will also have to pay VAT on good leaving the EU and then be taxed again here. We import more than we export. That will be forever, not a one off payment. The EU employs fewer than Leeds City Council and our 200 plus MEPs improve the laws our PM and the 27 other leaders decide together to implement. However less than 6% of our laws even mention the EU in passing. Most environmental laws and fishing laws are international, not EU and we have to abide by them anyway. The EU is a stable and healthy platform which has helped this country grow and given its people rights (maternity leave, maternity benefit, gold plated child care, the guarantee of a pension). It is expected that up to 19 million jobs will go if we exit the EU, mostly women's first, as people will no longer be able to affordd to employ you. Brexit is social and economic suicide. WE are losing OUR rights, the EU citizens still have theirs. 11 EU countries want to start taxing hedge fund traders like Gove and Farage andBoris Johnson and David Davies and Rees Mogg - all these people who trade abroad despite claiming they cannot and are worth millions. The Eu wants to impose a tax of one half of one percent - their cleaners pay 19%!. They are trying to avoid tax adn governemnt controls so the people like me and you pay for all our roads, hospitals, bypasses, schools etc without tapping into Conservative MP Rees Moggs £50m in a state Russian bank or his £500m portfoliio in Indonesia where this Catholic no abortionist makes abortion drugs. YOU ARE BEING DUPED. They own bit coins - a currency on the ethernet which has no government and cannot be traced or taxed and they aim to keep all their money up their while you pay for their way of life - rather a socialist concept.. WAKE UP BRITAIN BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE. EUROPE IS ON YOUR SIDE, THERESA AND HER CHAUFFEUR DRIVEN CAR ARE NOT.
- SIV

The Tories will never be able to secure a sensible EU withdrawal outcome because of its historic divisions over EU membership and the red lines Teresa May has forced upon negotiations. A second referendum/people's vote will only continue the division in the country.The British Border in Ireland can only be resolved with N. Ireland staying in a customs union/framework with the EU. Seinn Feinn, The IRA, Eire (who now have a say over furure constitional arrangements in the North) and the EU will not allow any other solution. This means the only resolution that can be found is by a General Election in which a mandate for such a position can be agreed by UK citizens.
- JB

Another Referendum is undemocratic? We’ve had 40 years to know precisely what Remain we’re offering; and two more to discover how little was understood about Leave. If Hard Brexit/Remain had been the offer, Leave would have gathered many votes and LOST. It follows that the Government have never had any mandate for No Deal. In the range of options between No Deal and a Soft Brexit, we have no way of knowing, two years on, which deal would have won a majority. Brexit was the Government’s mandate to waste more than two years on finding out what could be achieved. This debacle has been the essential and democratic consequence of David Cameron’s disastrous misjudgement. Referendums have to be simple binary choices. That was Cameron’s mistake. Once the Government has agreed a deal with the EU a People’s Vote is the only democratic option if Parliament fails to accept it. Well done, SW
- Nick

I was already aware of rumblings among local Conservatives, discontent about Dr Wollaston; but really, she seems to be saying, "Bring it on." Just the other day in the House she is reported as saying, "The only politicians’ vote would be one which contrived to deny this House a meaningful say and ignored the 700,000 people who walked past the Prime Minister’s door at the weekend to demand a people’s vote. That is because it is important that everyone has the chance to weigh up the evidence..." etc. Yet again she pretends that we did not have a "people's vote" in 2016, and that the referendum was somehow inadequate or meaningless. It was a simple binary choice to leave or remain - and the former won, by 53% in England, with almost exactly that figure for the Westcountry, though in nearby Torbay 63% plus voted Leave, in Plymouth 60%... Yet again our MP - who turned her coat from supporting Leave to become an ardent Remainer - supports those who would overturn the clear result of a referendum vote initiated by Parliament. It is wholly unsurprising that Totnes area Conservatives should be dissatisfied with the attitudes and performance of their MP. Given Dr Wollaston's stance, and Mrs May's abysmally inept conduct of Brexit negotiations, there is not a chance I shall vote Conservative next time round. I am confident a great many others feel the same.
- Tony Harrison

Fully agree on the need for informed consent. The issue is however WHAT you seek consent for. There can only be TWO democratic options given the first vote, they are to accept the deal or to leave with no deal. Yes there were 700,000 people marching, however there were 17,410,742 who voted out. I don't believe that the 700,000 should out weigh the 17,410,742 because they had a strong PR machine. Any vote that results in 'not leaving', IS UNDEMOCRATIC. Whilst this government (and to be honest: parliament as a whole) have failed the people (irrespective of your initial vote) due to self interest, we need to consider IF we wish the "home of democracy" to join those who use the term ONLY when it suits them.In this, we as voters CAN take back some control, as outlined above. From memory Dr Wollaston's constituency voted by 54.1% to leave. based on post vote analysis the vote, based on our political constituencies (the basis of our democratic model) showed 242 remain, 406 Leave, in other words a 26% majority to leave!!. Let's be clear IF the vote had been on the constituency boundaries defined by the current government then the majority to leave would not have been 3.78% but 26%. For those who voted to REMAIN, I feel your pain, I was one, however there is a wider issue (in my view) at stake and that is whether we ignore the democratic will of the people because it does not fit with our own desire or view. We may feel we know better, but do we? Does our vote mean more than theirs? A second vote, and its viability, is wholly dependent on how that vote is framed. If it in any way means the UK remains in, or under (any aspect) of EU control then it IS anti-democratic. Lets assume we have a second vote where the majority swings the other way, do we have a third vote and continue "Ad Nauseam" (I am already sick of it)? We either accept the constraints and limitations of democracy or we go to a darker place. In terms of the NI border. We have had an open border with EIRE for years and long may it remain. We have a customs structure aligned with the EU. Tell the EU there WILL be no border. Should they wish to implement one then, that is their choice. Do NOT be drawn into NI politics or the DUP (who want everything to be the same providing it is not gay marriage, abortion .....). Time for the politicians to STOP playing politics and deliver what the people said they wanted (irrespective of their own personal views). Time for us to consider whether we want Europe or democracy, I know which I will go for even though I voted REMAIN. Having said that I see Sarah Wollaston as a powerful advocate of an institution we SHOULD all be very proud off (the NHS). Unfortunately we (the voters) need to understand that we either need to pay for it, reduce the scope or turn to the American model (god forbid).
- GP

The only vote I require is a ballot of local members to remove Sarah Wollaston as the Tory MP. She has long since stopped promoting ANY Conservative policies...surely it is time the party removed the whip and deselected her.
- George, Paignton

It appears that, as our MP, you have decided to to stay as a remainer in spite of the democratic majority vote to leave. Therefore you will not receive my vote at the next election.
- Ian, East Allington

Well I am considering breaking the habit of a lifetime and voting for a tory, so that cancels out the East Allington kipper.
- Bob

Well done, Sarah. Here are quotes from an excellent article by AC Grayling in Prospect magazine, in support of a People's vote. "Recall that the referendum was advisory. No referendum in our constitution can be otherwise, because of the doctrine of the sovereignty of parliament; but MPs were expressly reminded of this in advance of their debate on the referendum Bill, in a House of Commons Library Briefing Paper (number 07212, 3rd June 2015), and confirmed on the floor of the House of Commons by the Minister for Europe, David Lidington (Hansard 16th June 2015). “Parliament has never specifically debated the outcome of the referendum, nor specifically voted on whether or not to accept the advice of the advisory vote. Instead it has chosen, without discussion, to treat the outcome as politically mandating although constitutionally advisory only. Given that parliament and the government it supports exist constitutionally (see the UK parliament website and MPs’ code) to protect and foster the interests of the country and its people, and given that the most optimistic projections of the effect of the best possible Brexit indicates that damage will accrue to the economy and livelihoods, this privileging of the political over the constitutional raises profound questions. […] “Of the electorate enfranchised for the referendum electorate, 37 per cent voted in favour of leaving the EU. On the day of the vote this proportion was represented by 51.9 per cent of votes cast. The 37 per cent figure requires context: by statute a trades union needs a vote of 40 per cent of its total membership to call a strike, otherwise the strike is illegal. There cannot be a general election outside the fixed parliamentary term unless 66 per cent of all sitting members vote for it. This high bar exists because a general election might bring about a change of government and therefore a change of national circumstances. Major and perhaps permanent constitutional change chosen by 37 per cent of a (restricted) electorate is by no standard a mandate, and this is a big reason why the referendum is far from conclusive.” […] “In light of all this, a second referendum is an absolute necessity. It conforms to the common-sense principle that it is wise to consult second thoughts, a principle applied in parliament itself in relation to no confidence votes: if a government loses a no confidence vote, a second such vote must be held two weeks later to see whether anyone has changed his or her mind. If that principle (to protect a government against the momentary anger of its own backbenchers, mainly) is good enough in parliament, in the momentous matter of the UK’s EU membership it is a must.”
- Tim

You don't give consent to have a toe removed only to wake up with an amputated leg. Can many leave voters list ALL the significant consequences of Brexit that will affect them and others? Brexit is a coup. The 2015 referendum act granted an advisory, non-binding referendum only, preserving Parliamentary sovereignty. The 2016 referendum was not therefore a democratic "decision" but an opinion. Before the vote Cameron offered implement the outcome. He was not entitled to do this. That is why it went to Parliament in 2017, but by then MPs were faced with an expectation that they should regard the referendum as binding. Parliamentary sovereignty was disempowered. Before the final implementation vote in March 2019 Parliament should be given opportunities to debate freely and vote on a number of motions regarding the relationship with the EU. This will provide a numerical view of what Parliament would support for the common good weighed against the advise from the referendum. It can then vote down the implementation bill if the deal made is unsatisfactory, without triggering a no-deal Brexit, knowing that an alternative bill would pass. Whereas the EU can absorb a no-deal Brexit, the UK cannot. It kicks in immediately, with disruption of supplies resulting in business failures. Parliament is sovereign, it is the guardian of the common good, it can only pass an implementation bill that contains a satisfactory Customs or Free Trade deal. Failing even that article 50 should be repealed. Once out, the UK stays out. Reentry would not just mean no rebate, but also compulsory joining of the Euro-zone. Terrible idea.
- Martin

Apparently our Conservative MP is not even going to vote for the Budget now. This is essentially a vote of no confidence in the government. Our manifesto was very clear. To leave the Single Market and the Customs Union. To not have a second referendum. Boosting the bands to 12.5k and 50k was in that manifesto that nearly 27000 people in Totnes voted for. They are not having their expressed wishes represented in Parliament. Why would our MP vote against this budget when it so obviously in line with Conservative Party policy and values? As a previously loyal supporter, I am sorry that Sarah Wollaston has some time ago (to all intents and purposes) left the Conservative Party. She should have the decency to resign from the party and call a by-election...that way constituents can make their wishes known either way. The party should remove the whip and make clear that it will have a different candidate in Totnes at the next election.
- George, Paignton

I entirely agree with your post Sarah. As far as I see, if democracy exists, it should exist every day, not just on the 23rd June 2016. If the Govt are insistent on respecting public opinion, they should listen to it every day, not just on that one day, in 2016. There are times in the past when inconceivable behaviours may have been supported by the public and, should the public have been given the choice, voted to be legal by them. This does not mean that we stick with the opinion of that one time and run the country forever by that opinion. We move with the times and consider what is best on a daily basis, we should not be acting on an opinion that may not even exist today. If it does exist, then what is the harm in another vote to simply 'double-check' it still stands?
- Sandra Jackson

George from Paignton wants to disrespect the verdict of the voters of Totnes, at the last general election, and have another vote. Would that be a peoples' vote?
- Nick K

The people of Totnes voted for a Conservative manifesto that Sarah Wollaston is blatantly working against. Our MP is the only one disrespecting that vote. She is the best advert for recall there is. Sarah Wollaston Members of Parliament are not little Gods on Earth with permanent tenure. If they refuse to enact the wishes of their electorates, they generally get moved on. Not sure if "Nick K" does understand democracy, or just doesn't like the recent outcomes of votes.
- George, Paignton

So, having publicly stated many times that trade negotiations cannot start until the withdrawal agreement is concluded and the UK cannot 'cherry pick' the EU has conveniently forgotten all of that and embarked on a cherry picking exercise of it's own! They are effectively trying to blackmail us into giving them fishing rights in return for avoiding an issue with the NI border and that is plain to see. All I want from the EU is a Canada plus free trade agreement and as friction free trade as possible, nothing more and nothing less. The pigs breakfast cobbled together by Theresa May does not deliver a clean Brexit and leaves the UK as an EU dependency, which is nothing short of outrageous. It should be voted down by Parliament and a new Brexit supporting PM appointed to sort this mess out. I simply cannot believe what a shambles Parliament is making of a clear instruction from the British people.
- David H

All of you Conservatives who slam Dr Woolaston dont get the idea that if there is something wrong with an idea there is little point playing Party Dogma and letting the Country go to hell in a hand cart . She has the Spine to speak her mind a vote as she feels is right , a true Leader. Open your eyes and your minds to a new way of thinking , its not Dogmatic , Stupid !
- G David - businessman

Please Sarah - do something to save us from this madness. The UK can't be ruled by simplistically-worded referenda. And can people stop talking about the "will of the people". For every 17 people who voted "leave", 16 people voted "remain". The young will be most affected, and many of them were too young to vote 2 and a half years ago.
- Margaret

Open your mind Open your mind.
- Derek

Well now we know, the 'Trojan horse', Theresa May, has finally confirmed her intention to make the UK an EU dependency, indefinitely! Her lack of political judgement was laid bare when she called a snap election with a lack of any meaningful manifesto policy commitments a short time ago, but that pales into insignificance compared to the monumental error of judgement that she has just announced with the draft Brexit agreement. Along with over 17 million other referendum voters I am left feeling like I have been totally deceived and betrayed by Theresa May and the political establishment that is Parliament. At every stage of the negotiations she has caved in to EU demands and while I admire her courage and tenacity as far as I am concerned her position is now untenable. Quite apart from a weak and feeble performance in the withdrawal negotiations she has spectacularly failed, with the assistance of Philip Hammond, to prepare the country for a 'no deal' scenario, which is nothing less than a gross dereliction of duty. This might be a 'good deal' for the EU but it is an 'unbelievably bad' deal for the UK. In return for £39 billion and a complete capitulation to the EU all she has gained in return is 15 pages of notes indicating that we will work towards some form of trade deal with the EU in the future and that is not even legally binding! It beggars belief that anyone could put this before the country as a good result, let alone a victory. If this deal gets past cabinet and through Parliament there is not a chance that I will be voting conservative at the next general election and the party is heading for political oblivion.
- David H

Written after the Cabinet ‘support’ for the Withdrawal agreement . Its is so evident that we need to go back to the Referendum. I am delighted that our MP has had an open mind and the spine to stand up for the benefit of the Country and not the short term political dogma. It is a huge decision and what is certain is that we now know a lot more about the whys and wherefores of Brexit and some of the original mantra has been outed for being incorrect ( the early fake news ) . I am in full support of a People Vote and have huge admiration for SW and her integrity in supporting this , often in the face of unecessarily aggressive comments on this blog . Let the full honest debate continue. If we do vote out again , I ill respect that as we have now had proper debate and knowledge on this enormous decision.
- Gabriel David

Oh so after voting to leave in 2016, and then voting Tory to leave the Customs Union and the Single Market in 2017, you are telling us that you'll accept it if we vote out again in 2018. Thanks for that(!). And we're supposed to believe that are we? The debate will not continue...as far as leaving the EU, it finished on 23 June 2016. Sorry you missed the memo. The only vote there will be now is a Conservative leadership election. As a member I am looking forward to voting for Johnson or Mogg. There'll be many more like me. There won't be another referendum. And Sarah Wollaston won't be a Tory MP...although anyone following her 'progress' over the last two years will scarcely have seen her espouse any core Conservative value in any case.
- George, Paignton

100% agree George, though I'd add David Davis to your list.
- John

Dear George of Paignton The debate whether or not to leave the EU didn't finish with the referendum. There were so many lies told, one of the major donors to the leave campaign is now facing a criminal investigation and still there were 16 remainers for every 17 leavers. Not exactly an overwhelming majority. Now we know more about how brexit will affect us surely we ought to re-assess our situation. There are many situations where what seems a good idea looks very different in the cold light of day. What the the leavers afraid of? If leave is such a good idea surely people will vote for it again.
- Bob

Hello Bob. Both campaigns exaggerated the truth, told lies and put across their arguments in ways that were inaccurate. I might very well point out the lies told by the Remain campaign when they denied that the EU aspired to have a common foreign and defence policy (which it this week moved towards). I might point out that David Cameron disgracefully used taxpayers' money to fund one side of the campaign. I might even point out that in 1973 British people were asked to sign up to a Common Market, and were assured that there would be no political integration...when the political establishment of the time knew that this was a lie. That's politics dear boy. All campaigns in all elections always lie. It is for the electorate to make their choice. They did that on 23 June 2016. I know you didn't like the outcome. I didn't much like the outcome the World Cup Semi Final. But I dealt with it. And so should you. I am not persuaded by the case the Electoral Commission has made against Darren Grimes and Arron Banks, and will wait for the courts to adjudicate. I do know that a significant number of individuals in senior positions at the Electoral Commission had made outspoken remarks against Brexit. This is clearly not appropriate and has damaged the credibility of the Electoral Commission. I know exactly how Brexit is affecting us. Unemployment is at a 43 year low. Latest UK growth is higher than all other major EU economies. Borrowing is falling. None of the loaded Treasury forecasts were proven true, and I have long since stopped believing their fairy tales. I am not afraid of any vote. Election results have tended my way in the last few years, and I trust the wisdom of the British people always (more than my own). But it would be perverse to ask the people again when the government still have not implemented the initial instruction. And it would be seen for the transparent anti-democratic blocking measure that it is. The cold light of day does not change the fact that after a five month campaign, 17.4 million people voted TO LEAVE THE EU. The next vote should be a Conservative leadership election...the members have not elected a leader since 2005, and it is high time we did.
- George, Paignton

Bob, "What the the leavers afraid of?" - I think the answer is obvious. Manipulation of the vote - i.e. manipulate the vote by setting 3 choices which will split the 'Leave' vote between 'Leave and accept deal' and 'Leave with no deal' ensuring that 'Remain' wins (even if it gets little more than a third of the vote!). But there is a much bigger picture here - this is no longer just about Brexit. The public are already disillusioned with politics. Ignoring the original vote just reinforces this!
- Patrick, Brixham

We cannot have another referendum which includes the question "remain in the EU". This would be a referendum on a referendum and would be profoundly undemocratic. It would simply be a rerun of the first. Notwithstanding the legal status of a referendum, the government chose to have one and to abide by the decision. Any volte-face on this point would destroy all trust in democracy. Although my view is that our elected representatives should deal with the nuts and bolts of any deal, I would not object to a further referendum on the terms of the deal, providing no questions were included which would have the effect of reversing the first referendum.
- nigel

To add to what I have said above, is seems to me that any people's vote would have to be phrased as a choice between accept the deal offered or do not accept the deal offered. This would mean that there was no question of remaining in the EU. Two points arise from this. One, if we were to remain in the EU after all, we would be crawling to it with our tails firmly between our legs and for the foreseeable future would be treated by the other major EU powers as second class citizens. We would be a laughing stock. Two, the EU negotiators have acted thus far with intransigence so as to teach the UK a lesson for daring to leave their club. There is therefore little likelihood in my view, that any alteration to the present deal on the table would be more than a tinkering round the edges at best. On the other hand, no deal would be likely to be a disaster according to most opinion. For this reason, I think we should accept the deal offered. There is little alternative.
- nigel, Dartmouth

The British people voted but they were not informed of the details and difficulties we now know about. No one can deny this . Just like agreeing to an operation you then go away and read up on the details , you go back to your surgeon nearer to the time of the planned operation. You have all the risks read out to you and the detail of the procedure. You are then asked to sign a consent form. The British people deserve the right to now sign that consent form or to change their mind in view of all they now know. This is not to repeat the process of a referendum but to fulfil it either way. I would suggest one further point of negotiation we offer to keep open borders but everyone coming to the UK has to have health insurance arranged in their country of origin. We have huge numbers of Eastern Europeans using our health service every day often requiring expensive translators and often receiving expensive care when they have not lived in the uk for long and certainly have not contributed to our taxes. I feel the EU would understand we can't afford to offer free health care any more to these new comers. There also has to be an understanding that in order for their children to receive free education they must speak English before entering our school system. Many people voted to leave thinking it would be better for our NHS -read the BMJ this last week and see just how misled they were. However with obligatory health insurance those with poor health would not be able to afford the premiums and it we would then see a reduction in the numbers coming into the UK. However we need many EU workers to keep coming maybe the employers who rely on cheap labour, fruit and veg picking for example would have to pay the health insurance for their workers. At-least then we could say to the EU we would keep our borders open and continue to benefit from the hard working healthy migrants who add so much to our country and economy.
- Cathy Peterborough

Perhaps the people campaigning for a second referendum would be taken more seriously if they'd ever supported a referendum on our EU membership in the first place. Or if they'd supported a referendum after Maastricht, Lisbon or Amsterdam. The people were not consulted then before British sovereignty was removed. How funny that we need to have two referendums on this issue, when we had none on the others...anything to do with the fact that the establishment lost perhaps?
- George, Paignton

George from Paignton makes a valid point and I completely agree with him. As for Theresa May and her appeal to the public to support the deal she has just put before us it will not be coming from me! Only a fool would sign up to this deal, which only serves the short, medium and long term interests of the EU. All it does for the UK is preserve the status quo for a few short years and then leaves us pitifully weak when the future trade negotiations finally get underway. We have been treated with utter contempt by the EU during the withdrawal negotiations and effectively blackmailed over the Northern Ireland issue. As currently worded this document will make the UK a permanent EU dependency with an obligation to comply with all future EU laws with no say in them whatsoever. The draft deal also gives the EU a veto over whether we can actually leave the transition phase, or single customs union, which means that we will again be blackmailed with that during the trade negotiations until the EU get everything it wants. How on earth can anyone, let alone a British Prime Minister, say this is a good deal? While aspects of it covering defence, security and citizens rights might be acceptable the proposed backstop arrangement cannot and must not be voted through in Parliament. It would be a betrayal of our democracy and over 17 million people that voted to LEAVE the EU. We did not vote to become a permanent EU poodle or dependency! The recently published political declaration on our future relationship has NO legal validity and is only designed to hoodwink the British public. In my view we should not sign anything with the EU until the future trade deal is agreed. They cannot be trusted to deliver and we should not agree to give them £39 billion on the promise of 'jam tomorrow'. Not since Clement Atlee declared 'peace in our time' has a British Prime Minister shown such a lack of foresight and political judgement.
- David H

So because Remain lost in 2016 there needs to be another vote. I think people will get very angry and vote leave again . People really don't like being told to vote again because they gave the wrong answer. What will you do then Sarah ? Presumably resign. By the way you might think people in Brixham , who are after all your consituents love your weird whacky views but I assure you that if you go door to door canvassing you will hear what people really think about you.
- Peter Thompson

No MP should knowlingly and willingly sabotage their PM and Party with the kind of nonsense that you spout here and in Parliament
- Janet TT

Thank God that someone decent and conscientious is prepared to serve us and our country's interests. We elect her to understand the issues as best she can and do her best. Show some respect and less "screen ignorance". Well done SW
- Nick K

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26 FEB 2018

A Customs Union or Arrangement is in all our interests

During and after the referendum campaign I asked many people about the priorities behind their vote. The fact is that there was no one single issue. For some it was a promise on the side of a bus, for others, 'taking back control' over issues ranging from agriculture and fisheries to immigration and sovereignty. I met almost no one, then or now, who felt that we should accept being poorer as a result. As the reality hits home that the EU will reject sector by sector deals, 'the cake and eat it' approach, even if that means economic pain on both sides of the Channel, a stark choice lies ahead: Do we really want to march out through the exit door with no deal at all and with less than a year to put in place complex customs and borders arrangements? Rather than presenting a rose-tinted view, the hard Brexiteers need to level with the public on the scale of the unintended consequences. The government should not keep the economic impact analysis locked in a secret reading room accessible only to Parliamentarians but publish these so that everyone can examine the evidence.

In supporting New Clause 5, an amendment to the Trade Bill that would keep us in a form of customs union or customs arrangement after Brexit, I am not 'blocking' Brexit or 'obstructing the will of the people'. Britain is leaving the EU. This is an argument about the type of Brexit and that was not on the referendum ballot paper. The duty for MPs in carrying out the will of the people is to examine the evidence and press for the best possible Brexit, not to make their constituents poorer.

My view is that we should also opt for membership of the EEA and EFTA at least for the transition period. This would allow us to leave the Common Fisheries Policy and, like Norway, regain control over our fisheries, an issue of great importance to Brixham. But frictionless trade is also hugely important for both fishers and the processing sector, and in particular for exports to our most important markets in the EU.

Without a form of customs union or arrangement, border checks are an inconvenient inevitability. Without a customs union the current fudge over the border between North and South on the island of Ireland will inevitably become untenable. No one wants a return to the conflict of the past. The price of abandoning any kind of customs union is too high and I won't support it.

There is also a simple truth that there is no Parliamentary majority for a walk-away, no-deal Brexit. The small band of hard Brexiteer MPs need to stop throwing down red lines like spaghetti and stop threatening to remove the PM unless she bends to their will. The PM has herself spoken clearly of wanting a customs agreement with the EU and NC5 is compatible with that as it does not call for 'the' Customs Union on existing terms. My role as an MP is to read the evidence and to clearly state the case for what I believe is in the best interests of my constituency and the country even if that is sometimes wilfully misrepresented by those who simply want us to walk away, whatever the unintended consequences.

64 comments

There is a point when you need to support your party leader, not to second guess theoretical scenarios. Subverting a democratic vote makes you unfit to stand for election as 'we would not know what we were voting for'.
- John. Dartington

One of the unintended consequences could be the defeat of the Prime Minister and the election of Jeremy Corbyn- a man who has never been a fan of the EU and could create an existential threat to Parliamentary democracy. If you vote against a 3 line whip and cause the Government to be defeated I am not sure I could vote for you again.
- Andy Totnes

I wish more MPs would take a thoughtful, well reasoned and independent approach like Sarah. Keep up the great work you do for all of us.
- John Scott

As a lifelong Tory voter who is beginning to waver, I feel rather frustrated by talk of Customs Union (including Labours turnaround) and see it as a way to really keep us in the EU - out by name only as nothing changes. If this ends up in a fudge of not really being out of the EU, not being able to control our borders and not being able to negotiate our own deals I despair! Why did we bother with a referendum? Maybe it is time for older voters like myself to give up - especially with the grief given by certain members of society. The way things are going, maybe a hark back to the 1970s will shake up a few people who didn't experience it and maybe some good will come of it?
- Patrick, Brixham

Richer or poorer? The short answer is that it's really not about the money, but about restoring our sovereign right to govern ourselves. Opinions differ about the extent to which we have been ruled by people in Brussels & Strasbourg, the most authoritative being that of the House of Commons Library some years ago: according to one's interpretation, between 15% and 50% of our laws emanate from abroad - not from our Parliament... The European Parliament
- Anthony Harrison

Little or no point in your permitting comments here if one is restricted to a single cursory paragraph: my previous comment was slashed by at least 80%. Message unwelcome, perhaps...
- Anthony Harrison

Remaining members of the customs union could be the best solution for the next 3 to 10 years. We can always review this sometime in the future [but don't let the EU hear that said]. We can then deal with all the other implications of leaving the EU and put off the trading alternatives for another day. We have to achieve this without the EU bullies adding caveats such as free movement of labour, unreasonable contributions, EU laws for unrelated issues etc. It is a shame that Labour formalised this policy before Tories. The Tories have to get their act together and demonstrate a united front. The impact of having a Labour Government would do even more damage to our economy than a bad deal Brexit.
- Mike Allen

You are right to interpret what Brexit means, it was by no means clear in the referendum question and the governments interpretation of what Brexit means is just that. Only a small fraction of the population voted to be poorer the rest of us want to continue our prosperity and hand it down to our children. A hard, brutal Brexit will damage us all both economically and socially.
- Peter Sturdgess

Re the comment from Peter Sturdgess, one has heard this before. But the referendum was wholly, unambiguously clear: it was a simple binary choice between leaving the EU or staying in. And 53% of English voters (who form 85% of the UK population) voted to leave.
- Anthony Harrison

Dr Wollaston, I think "Raedwald" (excellent blogger, construction industry professional, retired to Austria) has an excellent summary today, extract: "Brussels is said to be preparing tomorrow to destroy the progress we all imagined had been secured over Christmas. They will insist we impose a hard border in Northern Ireland, and we will refuse. Their driving the UK towards either a hard exit or a Labour government, a new referendum and a reversal of Brexit is deliberate and inescapable. This is not a negotiating process designed to ensure an amicable future, but unsheathed hostility and territorial aggrandisement, meddling by power-struck fools and amateurs in Brussels with an undistinguished record of failure, conflict, death and disaster in everything they've ventured. They're gambling, and playing with peace in Northern Ireland..."
- Anthony Harrison

'Trust me, I'm a doctor', may work in the practice of medicine but is inappropriate in representative politics. Sarah's about turns do not inspire confidence, especially when supported by smoke and mirror arguements. I think she may feel more at home with the LibDems !
- John

If you vote with Labour you will at best give succour to the EU that they can strong-arm the UK into accepting a very bad deal and at worse you will bring down the Government and potentially install Corbyn and his very left wing comrades in No10. All the hard work of the last 8 years will be wasted and within a very short-time the legacy of post Thatcher liberal economic policies will be laid waste as Corbyn and MacDonnell impose their version of a socialist state on the UK. You must know that we cannot stay in the single market and we cannot stay in a customs union because if we do Brexit is meaningless. Last year another 578000 migrants settled in the UK. If we stay in the Single market we will have to accept free movement if we stay in a customs union we will be worse than Turkey. If we cannot strike our own trade agreements we may as well stay in the EU and accept humble pie. Australia, NZ, both took this step and their fortunes and people are much the better for it. Please re-consider your position and remember that the Conservative party's future depends on delivering Brexit and keeping Corbyn our of power.
- David Taylor

I didn’t vote for you but have long admired your intelligent, independent and principled representation of your constituency.
- Ben

As a Conservative voting member of this consituency I have written to Sarah several times on the subject of Brexit and as recently as yesterday. Having read her reply and blog which talks in favour of a Customs Union I get the impression that she is about to join the ranks of Corbyn and Co and vote in direct opposition to her own Government! Theresa May and our negotiating team are working hard to deliver a departure from the EU on the best possible terms and I find it staggering that they are not being either trusted or supported by one of their own Conservative Party members. While we are almost certain to end up with customs arrangements that are acceptable to both sides this is a matter for the negotiations. Voting against the Government before the negotiations have even started will hardly help our cause and through these pages I would urge Sarah to think again on this matter. Liam Fox is absolutely right to say that if the UK was to enter into a Customs Union with the EU that prevented us from doing our own trade deals it would be disastrous for our future prospects. We will in effect have given up what little influence we had in the EU and yet remain dependent on this over-centralised, bureacracy for the foreseeable future. However, if our negotiating team are able to negotiate a customs arrangement which leaves us free to do our own trade deals that is something that could actually work in the short and long term. To get such a deal of course requires Conservative MPs to get behind and support the Prime Minister and our negotiating team, rather than joining the ranks of Labour and undermining them. A majority of the British People voted to leave the EU, full stop. We did not vote to half leave and all this talk of doom and gloom after we have left is just like 'Project Fear', a lot of hot air that has very little to do with reality. At a time like this all our MPs should be supporting the Government and working in the national interest, not working with Labour to bring down the Government and ignoring what people voted for in the referendum.
- David Hoy

Thank you for your clear, rational thoughts. There is much evidence that abandoning a customs union will damage the economy for many years. Hard Brexiteers offer little of substance and much fanciful rhetoric. It is time to face reality.
- Jennifer Smith

I find Dr Wollaston's reply somewhat condescending, as though we are unaware of how Parliament works, or able to think for ourselves. There is much discussion about 'hard' and 'soft' brexit; 'soft' appears to mean capitulation to the EU. Our negotiators have behaved in a traditional British way, by listening to the other side and being prepared to compromise, where clearly they do not. It should be recognized, and often repeated, that we are one of the world's strongest economies, and are capable of trading, and prospering as an independent nation, free from the dictats of EU interference. So to vote against the government (effectively with Corbyn and Co) only strengthens the hands of the EU, who see dissent as working for them. I suggest that if Dr Wollaston does not agree with a single point, surely it would be better to abstain, rather than vote against the government? A defeat of the government would be disastrous for this nation
- Barry Day

I voted remain as I firmly believe that our future prosperity lies in close co-operation with europe. A hard brexit that takes us out of the customs union will only do us harm. Business will suffer and imports and exports will be complicated. I remember in the referendum campaign that much was made of the 'Norwegian model' in fact in 2013 Boris Johnson said he was in favour of remaining in the single market and yet we are told the the only way forward is a hard brexit. Whilst it is very touching to see so many people trusting politicians over brexit I wonder whether this is wise. Beware the loss of the regulations which keep us safe, do you really want chlorine washed chicken or beef full of antibiotics and steroids?
- Bob Bowling

The EU (of which we, the UK, are an influential part) has negotiated over 50 trade deals with other countries, entered into over 700 international treaties, set pan-continental standards from animal husbandry standards (which we are trying to improve) and aircraft safety rules to conditions of work (of which we have the lowest as a result of an opt out) and regulated the transport of nuclear material. They have also made rules that 28 sovereign nations have to operate within to achieve the most integrated free trade area in the world that collectively makes up the world's second larges economy. All this has been approved by a democratically elected parliament and approved by the 28 nation states. What's not to like?
- Simon JD

Behave yourself and fall in line behind your leader. Vote with the whip and remember why you're there - to keep our party in Government. Also, you're qualified to give medical opinions, not economic ones. As your comments show, you have not the slightest grasp of trade or economics. Best keep your nose out.
- Mark

I note your Tweets about the Prime Minister’s excellent speech earlier today and would like as one of your constituents living in Totnes to express my concern about your stated lack of confidence in the government’s and Theresa May’s approach to Brexit. I have to say too I have been most surprised over the last few years to see how your far your position has changed since appearing initially to support leaving the EU. Leaving was always going to be a hugely important change of direction and is something that every Conservative MP contemplating supporting it ought to have been thinking through thoroughly in the years preceding the referendum. Equally of course a decision to remain would have had huge ramifications for our future. No-one can fail to be aware that the EU is unstable and that changes, which would most probably have been unpalatable to the UK outside the Eurozone, would be the inevitable way forward for Brussels. So voting to remain would have been a huge leap in the dark too. Given the importance of the arguments for and against our continuing membership and the momentous opportunity that the referendum presented in terms of reassessing our relationship with Europe, I believe each of our representatives in Parliament ought to have long had a fairly settled view on the matter. (I do recall your sudden realisation that leaving the EU might hinder NHS recruitment from continental Europe. But obviously the weighing of pros and cons has to go far beyond that.) I have been strongly for leaving the EU for many years now, having become less and less happy with the diminution of democracy and the increasingly authoritarian way Brussels goes about its business. Since I took part in the original vote to join a trading block – the old EC - the whole nature of our relationship with Europe has changed, with no participation by the UK electorate in whether or not this change is acceptable. For centuries we in this country had an incredibly stable and equally a robustly responsive, democratic system. But from Maastricht onwards our politicians became more and more willing to abandon our hard won rights to citizenry participation and to parliamentary government. I read yesterday that former Prime Minister John Major recommends MPs listen to their constituents. What irony. From a man who gave so much of this away! Beware Dr Wollaston, he would prefer you hear only from those clamouring for a second referendum. From a man who in his time refused us a referendum on the grounds that decisions on vitally important matters of state should only be made by elected members of Parliament! For me, Brexiteer that I am, I can see nothing wrong with MP’s having a vote on the final Brexit deal. This is what bringing back democracy is about. I recognise and respect the view of continental Europeans that their new found stability, within the framework of the EU, is a very reassuring and positive development for them, contrasting as it does with the horrors endured so recently and so widely under both communist and fascist rule. Like many though, I fear this new found stability is extremely fragile and will prove illusory, with a European Parliament unable to exert any effective control over the Commissioners. (We had a taste of this in Greece and maybe Italy will be next?) Whatever the future holds for the EU, it has become progressively apparent it will entail a far higher degree of centralisation and bureaucratic authoritarianism than we in the UK have found acceptable over recent centuries. This cannot be the way forward for us. And this is why I voted to leave – I’m afraid all the much ridiculed clichés apply, summed up by ‘bringing back control’ - a return to democracy. (One gets the impression our friends in Europe are somewhat despairing of the messy and rather chaotic way the UK appears to be going about the leave negotiations. To my mind the last eighteen months has seen a rather wonderful reassertion of democracy and debate. Something rather alien to M. Barnier?) One of the things that I think has been extremely unhelpful from those arguing for second thoughts is the perhaps intentional impression, that there is such a thing as a ‘soft Brexit.’ Nomenclature is important. There are two sorts of Brexit - not soft or hard, but fake and real. As Mrs May has correctly put it ‘Brexit means Brexit.’ We are now getting into discussions on trade, very much the subject of Mrs May’s very good speech earlier today. Compared with ‘bringing back control’ everything else - summed up in this one word ‘trade’ - is of course detail, very important detail, complex detail, but nevertheless mere detail compared with ‘bringing back control’. I cannot agree with you Dr Wollaston in your assertion that there should be a Plan B. I would have thought seeking the right customs arrangements and all the many sectoral resolutions, in a unique deal fair to both sides, as Mrs May outlined, is the only way forward. I am sure nothing Mrs May said today will have come as a surprise to M. Barnier and his negotiators. Her objective today in publicly disclosing the UK positions was surely and simply to emphasise one thing. That our only objective is to obtain an outcome - with compromises as happens in all ‘trade’ negotiations - that is satisfactory to both parties. To think there might be a Plan B is a misunderstanding of how negotiation works. I was impressed by what was implied in the speech – that if negotiations fail there will be chaos. She was saying there must be agreement: we will have a real Brexit or as she put it originally Brexit must mean Brexit. Anything less than a real Brexit is not a soft Brexit, which is perhaps your Plan B? As I would put it, anything less than a real Brexit is a fake Brexit. Mrs May was talking tough with the EU today: we are prepared to be reasonable as you must be, there must be a good fair agreement or there will be chaos. There can be no Plan B. An unfairness inherent in this kind of conversation with you my MP and with anonymous tweeting and so on, is that you do not know me. I expect you to represent me without your knowing me. And I must feel reasonably confident you have the interests of South Devon at heart and that you know in general how we your constituents tick. Orders of magnitude worse of course, I would argue impossible, is the situation we have when those who represent us in Brussels are in Strasbourg and in any case can only advise. How much more robust when you my representative can bring down a government. I truly hope though that will not be the unintended consequence of what I can only assume is some misunderstanding on your part of the art of negotiation. Finally I really feel I cannot close without explaining something of what I am and where I am coming from. I am a retiree of some ten or so years. I started out long ago with a first degree in physical science, went into the food and drink industry, added in some environmental health and management qualifications along the way, and ended up in charge of technical development reporting to a main board director at a FTSE 100 company. In that latter capacity I spent many years negotiating with both French and US equivalents. (I always found the French obtuse in the extreme and the Americans straight, tough and very good at execution!) My take on things is that if you think you can clearly see where negotiations are currently at, then Mrs May and her team are making a poor fist of it. Be pleased that things are unclear and let that give you the confidence to support Mrs May in every possible way. Maybe accept that your expertise rests elsewhere: there is no dishonour in deference. Good luck as you wrestle with it all!
- Stephen

The UK Does Not Want A Clumsy Brexit We write as Remain voters and labour voters who have studied the Brexit options and have been persuaded to change our minds by the following positive factual arguments for Brexit and the policies of the sensible Conservative government, not least the resolute leadership that Mrs May has shown in the face of a maelstrom of abuse from the EU, MPs and chunks of the press: A - An easy decision was never to vote for, or support in any way, a hard left labour government with a Candidate PM (Corbyn) and shadow team that are so unsuitable for the job. B - The Brexit options needed more thought and analysis. The following points summarise the arguments that swayed us to a position that agrees with the policy the PM decided from the start (Lancaster House) plus the need for an implementation period: 1. Careful analysis of the financial predictions shows GDP is more affected by less immigration than any reduction in trade up to 2030! https://briefingsforbrexit.com/recent-estimates-of-the-economic-impact-of-brexit/ . The impact on jobs of indigenous workers would be small in the worst case of a WTO based deal. 2. In a restrictive customs union versus a free trade deal, the less well off in the U.K. will be disadvantaged as prices will remain higher and choice reduced; this is an established economic fact http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/the-EU-customs-union/ since Britain adopted free trade in the 1840s 3. If the EU wishes to establish a hard border across Ireland then they can force The Republic to do so but not Northern Ireland. A low friction solution has been shown capable of working and when smart borders are developed and applied to all U.K. borders it will probably even give the U.K. a comparative advantage as a modern free trading nation. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/02/24/smart-borders-brexit-will-give-britain-extra-advantage-EU-commissioned/ . A partial restrictive CU does not solve the Irish problem and a smart border will still be needed around the rest of the UK so let’s gain an advantage by developing and implementing it. 4. EU trade accounts for only 12 percent of UK GDP. Please put your focus on the other 88 percent. 5. Business is much more adaptable than you might imagine. Aerospace items are not subject to tariffs by international agreement. The car industry will rapidly source parts from the UK or with friendly trading nations. Food will be cheaper outside a customs union – it was before we joined it. Note the recent large investments made in the UK as evidence of our potential. 6. EU standards are mostly establish by international bodies and followed by the EU. In fact many EU standards in my industry (manufacturing) were modelled on existing UK standards. 7. Human/workers rights will be better protected outside the EU by our Supreme Court and the ECHR and ECtHR rather that the ECJ. 8. Voting for the Soubry amendment of the 8th Feb would commit the Government to staying in a customs union ‘with the EU in the same terms as existed before exit day’. That implies ‘the customs union’ not even ‘a customs union’. The amendment is poorly worded and against what the people voted for in the referendum and would actually hurt the UK - it is just an obvious political trap. If this became a confidence vote it could lead rapidly to a general election and possibly a Labour administration. The EU supported by the powerful remainers will then try and grind Labour down to a staying in the customs union and even the single market - this must be what the ardent remainers want, a backdoor solution to staying in. 9. If we remain in any type of customs union we will have to pay 80% of the tariffs we collect to the EU and probably part of our Vat receipts as well; this is taxation without representation and not acceptable. 10. With the recent announcements of an EU army, the Macron/Junkers ‘more EU’, including pan EU financial governance, indicate that the EU is going the wrong way. Given the lack of democracy in EU governance, imagine how the EU might struggle to survive one or two more crises with a disgruntled EU population only able to vote for every increasingly anti-EU parties. With several anti EU countries acting together it is possible to imagine a right wing takeover of the non-elected EU power base and what then? The Italian elections point to a seismic shift away from support of the EU by a founder country populated, in the main, by decent friendly people. Why would we wish to chance being involved in the unstable EU future for little or no gain? 11. Sending a message that the UK supports free trade to the world by following the current government policy would benefit both the UK and other trading partners. 12. Business directors that I know are putting more effort into a plan for limiting the damage from a Corbyn government than Brexit. Recall Mervyn King predicts Brexit to be a bump in the road not a major disaster. The points above are issues that the EU are very concerned about and wish to try and dampen any advantage the U.K. will gain from Brexit and to try and damage us where they can. The EU is obviously looking ahead to other countries exiting and trying to close down a successful exit by Britain. Imagine how Brexit looks to all the other EU peoples and businesses. We are at a critical time in the negotiation and one would expect the EU to sound hard but if we can hold our nerve (I have considerable experience of international business negotiation) we can agree a win-win deal with the EU based on free trade - we have a strong hand to play. Even in the event of a WTO based deal (‘no deal’ is not going to happen) trade will not stop. UK industry will gain from any EU imposed restrictions as more material will be made here or come from trading partners outside the EU. A clumsy Brexit based on a selective customs union will be too complex, very expensive and would likely damage the UK with no say in new EU rules and regulations. Please reconsider your view on a customs union as we believe your apparent support for the/a customs union is not in the country’s long term interest or for the Conservative party. As I now believe that only the Conservatives are capable of implementing Brexit in a positive fashion, we are considering joining and contributing to this important struggle and need convincing that our MP will support the government and the country at this important time. Will you support the government?
- Sally and James Thomas

On March 29th 2019, the UK will leave the E.U. but we will hopefully not be turning our back on Europe. For the benefit of both parties it will be very important that we continue a strong trading relationship. This has always been the UK’s strength; therefore, I am very supportive of any arrangement whereby we can continue to trade freely with our European partners. I realise this may mean some compromises on both sides but we surely want to maintain trade in as frictionless way as possible. Therefore, I personally support those (including Sarah Wollaston) who wish to encourage such a frictionless trading arrangement without jeopardising our sovereignty.
- Brian Watkin

Leave the EU. Trade is fine. No backsliding like Labour. Britain voted to trade Worldwide. No to remaining in any part of club Europe. People wishing to remain in Europe may,by Moving there. No to being ruled from Brussels.
- Derek

I would never have voted for you if I thought you would jeopardise our vote for leaving the EU. This is the second time after you initially pledged to vote with the public to leave. I didn't initially have a problem with you changing sides as this was an important decision, even though I felt it was based on you thinking this was in YOUR best interest. I am sad to see that you are doing your best to change the electorates votes and feel that a Mr Blair is paying you well.
- Jane

In your view which would be more damaging, a 'hard' Brexit, or a PM by the name of Jeremy Corbyn? Because if, down the line, you vote against a Govt. 3 line whip, the result will be Corbyn Govt.
- Tom

Sadly, after hearing Sarah on Radio 4 today, an unforseen consequence should be that she no longer represents the people of the Totnes constituency. This muddled thinking is an impediment.
- John. Dartington

It seems that your arguments are surmise. You should support Ms May so that we can negotiate from a strong and united position.
- Douglas Gunn

I voted to Leave and it was clear what that meant and I am still a Brexiteer and just hope and pray that Mrs May's "Brexit means Brexit" means just that and that she doesn't do a Dr.Wollaston type about-turn and stab the Leave voters in the back as that shows weakness not strength...I have lost faith in you Dr.Wollaston and the only way you might restore my future voting for you is for you to back your PM in pressing for us leaving the customs union and all other EU restrictions that just hold us back as a country. We are a strong country still in spite of weak politicians and politics and long may that continue but I am not sure that you should as our MP....
- Kay Tee

I wonder, will Sarah support her Government or support the Lord's amendments on Brexit. I suggest her political career depends on it !
- John

Sarah - we are now at one of the most critical times in our negotiations with the EU. In the votes that are to come in Parliament this week PLEASE get behind and support Theresa May and our negotiating team. Voting with the likes of Ken Clarke, who appears to have made it his mission to sabotage our democratically arrived at decision to leave the EU, will do our country serious damage and it could bring down the Government. As you know from my previous correspondence I feel very strongly that the referendum result must be respected by Parliament and our elected MPs. You have made your views known and I respect you for that. However, now is the time to put the needs of the country first, which means supporting the Government and our negotiating team. I am not sure I could forgive the alternative and only Corbyn and extremist parties would benefit from that . . .
- David Hoy

At the next election I hope Totnes has a candidate who does not suffer from a fluctuating conscience and will honour the commitments given to aid their election !
- John

You are doing a sterling job Sarah. I see the increasing negative impacts of a potential hard BREXIT every day in my work, with the movement of legal entities and jobs to continental Europe in anticipation of such a scenario. The people did not vote to trash our trade agreement with the EU.
- Paul

Following on from my previous comments in March I should like to express my very great concern over your lack of support for the government. The intense pressure from you and like-minded MP’s, the House of Lords and associated extremely well-funded external Remain groups, is in my view likely to lead to a very bad Brexit outcome. I think it is time you explained your role in all of this to us constituents. To use your recent words are we being “treated like fools.” --------- A lot of this pressure on the government is now verging on the unconstitutional and I agree with Frank Field that the House of Lords ought now be completely reformed – Sunday Telegraph, 17th July. I supported the recent petition that this should be debated. --------- So I am sorry I have to say it again, but I cannot understand your complete change of stance over Brexit. You have said your position has been arrived at after a very careful consideration of what you consider the most pertinent evidence. The following may seem like a cheap remarks, which is not my intention. But I am afraid it is how your stance comes across. Thus you seem to have gone from originally supporting Brexit, based at that time on presumably your best evidence based assessment, to now being in agreement with a set of evidence which leads you to risking a very unsatisfactory almost non-Brexit. This seems to demonstrate a complete lack of judgemental ability in weighing matters properly? Given you are in the eyes of most outside observers in this position, surely you should accede to the far greater weight of expertise available to the government and support their position? ---------- More generally my concern is that it is surely not for MPs to take over / pre-dictate / restrict Brexit negotiations and seemingly manipulate parliamentary procedure to that end over a ‘meaningful vote.’ This is all clearly a ruse to thwart Brexit and bind the Government’s hand. It is for the Government to negotiate what will be an international agreement, free of such restrictions. The role of Parliament is surely to accept or reject after debate, what the government has managed to obtain.
- Stephen

I have to agree with Stephen`s comments. Leaving the EU is a constitutional change and requires consent of the people, a referendum. This was done and a pledge to enact was in both Conservative and Labour manifestoes, Sarah obtained our support on this basis. If her conscience does not allow her to honour her contract with us, she should abstain from voting against her Government and resign her seat; anything less would amount to deceit and fraud.
- John

Sarah, yet again I feel compelled to write to you in connection with the elected Government's unfolding plans for Brexit. The draft EU Withdrawal Bill has been carefully formulated to translate fully into UK law EU Directives so that when we finally leave this organisation we can continue to trade on a fair and equitable basis. This should make it easier for our negotiating team to establish a new and long lasting relationship with the EU that includes for example trade, security and defence. It has nothing to do with the role of Parliament after Brexit and it is clearly the case that a substantial number of remain voting ex-MPs in the House of Lords have grossly exceeded their mandate by trying to attach a mandate to the draft EU Withdrawal Bill that would seriously undermine the Government and our negotiating team, if it was accepted by the House of Commons. This amendment CANNOT be allowed to stand as it would be immensely damaging to our country's prospects and in my view it would be a violation of our constitution. Theresa May and our negotiating team will get a new and effective deal covering our future relationship with the EU, but only if she is supported by her own party members, including and especially you. For God's sake give her and our negotiating team some much needed trust in the Commons vote that is coming later today!
- David Hoy

I believe Sarah voted against the Government today. I believe Totnes deserves a candidate they can trust, at the next General Election.
- John

Very disappointed with your inability to support the Government today, as I am sure many others will be. Sadly the logical outcome is that I can no find it in myself to continue my support for you.
- Stephen

You are a traitor. We have known that since your last-minute 'change of heart' on the referendum. So whatever good you do, we will never completely trust you. Theresa is braver, stronger, a more democratic woman, so follow her lead. Help her get us out from under the yoke of the unelected parasites in Brussels. Please.
- Jean, Totnes

Sarah, I am in my 70s and do not use twitter - a shallow medium full of ill-considered remarks. Tweets do get picked up by oldies though. Which perhaps means I am allowed some cheapskate replies? One of yours yesterday included this: “The fact is that #Brexit was sold on a false prospectus”. I assume you refer to the £350m a week message on the Boris vote leave bus. Firstly I think there is the usual patronising assumption here that anyone voting leave would take literally what was meant to be a neat and snappy slogan. But since you have got me onto it, what about those infamous parts of the other false prospectus. That on a vote to leave unemployment would rocket; George Osborne’s prediction of a £30bn black hole in public finances; the immediate emergency budget and Alistair Darling’s forecast of one emergency budget after another. This pair unlike Boris you would no doubt say are people of substance? Cheap remarks on twitter and my replies on here are demeaning. Could I suggest we play the ball and not the people.--------- Secondly you say in your recent tweet “As Parliament is not now going to have a meaningful final vote, people should be able to give their own verdict on the deal.” I was at Way with Words last night listening to David Owen who I think was already picking up on your support for a second referendum or something like it. I wish you had heard him – I really do suggest you seek out his wise counsel. Here are his words in a far from adequate nutshell.---------- There have been sharp divisions over Europe amongst senior Labour and Conservatives figures going way back. Nowadays politicians from both parties with metropolitan aspirations, many of whom commute from London in and out of their provincial constituencies, have little real empathy for the problem of local decline. Parliament prior to the EU vote largely supported EU membership, in spite of its adverse effects outside of the greater London area. Its present acceptance of EU withdrawal is therefore grudging. London’s financial dominance has further fuelled in recent decades a side-lining of the declining UK regions. Added to this is the adverse effect of European centrism. All of this has resulted in a divided populace – metropolitan London versus the rest – and an elite with no understanding of the resulting resentment of the centre and a very remote European autocracy. Over many, many years and not just amongst conservatives, the parliamentary process has failed to lance this boil. In the reluctant view of Lord Owen the only way to resolve such an impasse was to hold a referendum. He would not normally advocate such a response but believes there was no alternative as our representative political processes have failed to grasp the depth of alienation from the centre as it has developed over many years. His view is that the decision of the electorate should now be entirely respected, that the matter should now be regarded as settled. His great fear on the other hand is that it is not being respected. More than that attempts to undermine and reverse it will have terrible consequences for democracy in this country.----------- My words no doubt fail to properly summarise what he said but his concern was clear. The current gathering contempt amongst the elite for the democratic outcome of the EU referendum will fatally undermine UK democracy. Sarah, if you have not already done so, you really ought to seek out the advice of Lord Owen. His experience in European and International affairs is unrivalled. He himself has on occasions been a divisive figure but I have always respected him - conservative that I am - as deeply thoughtful, a rigorous thinker. He is an impressive person, please listen to him. Stephen
- Stephen

Sarah 14th July 2018. You know that the EU is broke. You know that they are printing billions of Euro's each and every week to keep Italy, Spain and Greece afloat without mentioning the precarious financial state of other countries. You know that the UK spends 80 Billion per annum more in Europe than they send with us. I am in full agreement with Richard Littlejohn when he writes: Independent sovereign nations do not collect taxes on behalf of foreign governments. Independent sovereign nations do not accept the jurisdiction of unelected foreign judges. Independent sovereign nations do not swallow wholesale rules made by unaccountable foreign bureaucrats. Independent sovereign nations are at liberty to conclude free trade deals with any country in the world. But if May gets her way, none of that will apply. Britain will still be subject to European directives and the rulings of European judges. That’s not Brexit by any stretch of the imagination. Kind Regards, Tim South.
- Tim South

I see that Sarah does not even bother to write this blog any more, and prefers to spout her vitriol on Twitter. Sarah does not have a Conservative bone in her body. I am assuming that steps are underway in the party to deselect her. If not, I and many other will be voting to remove her and the constituency will be lost.
- George, Paignton

David Cameron won a democratic election with a majority, a promise was made for a referendum on staying or leaving EU , a democratic vote was held , the majority of people voted leave. It is your duty and all Conservative MP’s to ensure that happens, otherwise democracy is denied and the use of our vote is pointless. I really wish we could all change our mind who we had voted for in the last General Election, you would not have had my household vote! You, Anna Soubry and the others in your nest of Vipers have weakened our Government at neogotiations throughout, you have changed your views as regular as Jeremy Corbyn, you have done this great country a very great disservice. Please either leave the Party, join Labour or join Anna Soubry in LaLa land
- Peter Mulloy

You, Anna Soubry and the rest of the nest of vipers have seriously damaged the governments hand in EU negotiations, if you do not wish to follow the people’s democratic decision or your Party, stand as an Independant, and then we then know exactly what type of person we voted for, I for one didn’t give you my vote and expect treachery , and irreparable damage to Party and Country
- Peter mulloy

"There is also a simple truth that there is no Parliamentary majority for a walk-away, no-deal Brexit." It is a "simple truth" that a majority of Tory constituencies voted Leave in the referendum, besides which 53% of those in England voted to Leave. Totnes is an odd constituency, what with the post-hippe and Green Party element with the bizarre ideas one might expect; but it is nevertheless Tory, and having lived here for over half my life it seems to me your espousal of surrendering our sovereignty to Brussels, or so tying us to EU regulation that Brexit would be meaningless, must offend a great many conservative-minded people. It will be interesting to see how your position affects the outcome of the next General Election.
- Anthony Harrison

Very proud of Sarah Wollaston for courageously making the argument for PEACE ; most people commenting negatively seem to forget that it was for PEACE ACROSS EUROPE after two World Wars that so many of our allied troops and other nationals were injured or died - over 600 US soldiers alone buried on our beaches.
- Marianne

Very proud of our courageous MP who is looking towards the future and wants to ensure a prosperous country - but above all ensure PEACE across Europe which is what our fathers and grandfathers died for in two world wars. Peace across Europe can never be taken for granted.
- Marianne

Marianne, I can assure you that our fathers and grandfathers, who died in 2 World Wars, would be appalled by the way that Sarah Wollaston has behaved of late. They valued loyalty and would have given little truck to one who had renaged on a belief after obtaining their vote on an issue. A fluctuating conscience would have been viewed with contempt, honour was everything !
- John

Marianne, our fathers and grandfathers would be appalled at Sarah Wollaston`s recent approach to the democratic referendum. Gaining a vote on an understanding, then reversing a position and voting against her Government would have been considered unacceptable. A fluctuating conscience would be given short shrift, honour was everything, resignation would be the only course !
- John

One thing that is very clear in the ongoing debate about Brexit is that there are a substantial number of MP's, including our own, that will stop at nothing to prevent what the people have voted for becoming a reality. Their consistent failure to support the Government and our own team in earlier negotiations with the EU have contributed substantially to the current impasse. I was a staunch supporter of Theresa May but I have to say that when it comes to the negotiations I tend to agree with David Davis and Boris Johnson that in an effort to show goodwill she has given away far too much up front at every stage and this is being exploited by both the EU and her many political opponents in the 'House of Cards' (Parliament). If she is able to secure a fair trade deal in these negotiations at all it will be in spite of some of her colleagues in Parliament and not because of them. The Conservative Party is now in the 'Last Chance Saloon' as far as many voters are concerned. Like me they are watching every unfolding development closely and our views will be expressed at the ballot box unless the referendum result is properly respected.
- David H, Brixham

One thing that is very clear in the ongoing debate about Brexit is that there are a substantial number of MP's, including our own, that will stop at nothing to prevent what the people have voted for becoming a reality. Their consistent failure to support the Government and our own team in earlier negotiations with the EU have contributed substantially to the current impasse. I was a staunch supporter of Theresa May but I have to say that when it comes to the negotiations I tend to agree with David Davis and Boris Johnson that in an effort to show goodwill she has given away far too much up front at every stage and this is being exploited by both the EU and her many political opponents in the 'House of Cards' (Parliament). If she is able to secure a fair trade deal in these negotiations at all it will be in spite of some of her colleagues in Parliament and not because of them. The Conservative Party is now in the 'Last Chance Saloon' as far as many voters are concerned. Like me they are watching every unfolding development closely and our views will be expressed at the ballot box unless the referendum result is properly respected.
- David H, Brixham

Marianne, our fathers and grandfathers would be appalled at Sarah Wollaston`s recent approach to the democratic referendum. Gaining a vote on an understanding, then reversing a position and voting against her Government would have been considered unacceptable. A fluctuating conscience would be given short shrift, honour was everything, resignation would be the only course !
- John

Who cares whether there is a Parliamentary majority? We knew Parliament had a majority of Remainers before the referendum. Parliament gave the Brexit decision to the people, and they chose to leave, not join a half-membership EEA where we'd still be under EU rules and law. You're trying to overturn the result of the referendum, not "respect" it as you claim. You might at least be honest about it
- Ron

To quote Ed Balls: "It is dangerous to start with the assumption that voters are wrong". The people that voted to leave in the referendum did so for many reasons but don't assume that they are not prepared to put up with some hardship or turmoil to achieve the objective of leaving. As our MP, it is your duty to do everything possible to achieve what the majority voted for in the referendum, not to second guess what they "might have meant" or "didn't really mean". Please support everything you can to get us out of the EU, hopefully with a deal if possible but without, if necessary.
- Tim Mattocks

Watched my MP on TV quite a few times lately. My opinion, She is more interested in point scoring with her leader and bettering her own standing than she is in what we vote for. The Disgrace of closing our's and other Local hospitals in readiness of privatising the NHS, and the deceit This May led government is showing towards Brexit and our democratic vote. Is Shameful, or should that be SHAMELESS. I have always voted Conservative and have never regretted it in the past. NOT SO NOW!, I am appalled at the way this country is being led by this government, and will NOT vote for any further May led government and a party so disrespectful of democracy and what the electorate clearly want
- Bruce Dartmouth

Great News of the week, traitor Sarah Woolaston has warned publicly if Boris top ples Mrs May she would resign from the party.. Go for it Boris
- Pat Brodie

Some of the vitriol directed towards Dr Wollaston on here beggars belief, False statistics presented as fact, talk of traitors and even an' individual claiming to know the views of our war dead are frankly beneath contempt and indeed represent the real 'project fear'. Be honest with yourselves some of the views expressed here are much more in keeping with Farage and his motley gang of BNP rejects., If you seek Tory traitors you don't need to look too hard, Mogg, Bo Jo et al are the real traitors who will bring down Mays government but you never see calls for them to be de-selected, indeed from 'Pat's comments johnsons back stabbing behaviour qualifies him for leadership. God help us. I am very pleased that we have a moderate, reasoned MP able to think for herself and try to do her best for the country, she has my full support.
- Ged

Ged You're conflating different things, a typical sore loser tactic. Of course we cannot know exactly what those of a different age we think about Brexit. I do know that there was a time when your word was your bond and how breaking your word was regarded !
- John

I cannot believe how the negotiators have dealt with the bully boys of Europe. If in business we kowtowed to our suppliers/business partners in the same manner businesses would be going bankrupt at a faster rate than they are now. The way to treat bully’s is to stand up to them and stand firm and Not change every time the wind turns. If however they don’t like our terms walk away and get on with the other 93% of the worlds population that are not in the EU, and I can guarantee the EU would soon be back pleading for a trade deal!
- Austen

Sarah has shown that she is not only now fit for office but very capable of seeing the problems, unlike the children who understnad nothing but want to pack their bags age 2 and march out onto the pavement to find somewhere better to live then the EU loving parents. It is not Sarah who should pack her bags. Many people in Brixham are saying they could not supprot her before but do now, however, as they see it voting Labour for the first time in their lives may be the only option if Theresa May doesn't come clean. At the moment she is like a old couple who are driving the wrong way down a motorway and either doesn't know it or is refusing to stop and ask for directions.. She is refusing to stop for more fuel and is about to run out, the warning light is on, there are not many more petrol stations and the EU petrol station is the cheapest, best , nearest and most reliable.
- siv

Thank you for standing up for what you think is right in crucial life changing matters rather than following the party line. What is more we are all entitled to change our minds and finesse our positions as we learn more. I do not always agree with you - but, at the moment, I do on this.
- Paul

Thank you, Sarah, for having the guts to stand aside from playing politics and to consider what is best for the UK in the long term. Nobody who voted in the referendum had any idea what the implications of leaving the EU might be. Now things are (slightly) clearer and it is time for people to vote on what is being offered. Foe example, there could be 2 questions: 1. Leave or Remain? 2. If Leave, No Deal or Current Deal. That is true democracy and it's hard to see what people are afraid of. Let's find out what voters really think before committing the UK to an enormous historical change.
- Ali

We can't go forward if we don't let business build the factory's here, in or out of the EU. Old planning law stops them.
- John, Paignton.

So, the PM is off to Brussels to 'take personal charge' of the final phase of negotiations.Just who is she trying to kid? It is clearly the case that she has been in direct charge of these negotiations all along, which is why two Brexit Secretaries have resigned, because they were actually working to deliver what the people voted for in the referendum. This is just another example of politicians getting themselves elected and then doing what they want, rather than what they were voted in for. In addition to a genuine Brexit deal this country is in dire need of 'root and branch' political reform. I will say it again, as voters we are being deceived, betrayed and the conservative party will pay a very heavy price for this at the next election.
- David H

There have been some very eloquent posts placed here, even by strong labour supporters, who believe you are making a mistake in not supporting the PM. If parliamentarians had got behind the PM to carry out the people's wishes in the first place we would have been in a much better negotiating position. I love European countries because of their Diversity, but it is precisely because of that they cannot work easily together. The UK has always been a capable country who can show a good example as well as follow them. It is disappointing to see you call for a second referendum. I do not wish to see Labour in power mortgaging our countries future. Please support the PM or make way for someone who will.
- Les Dartmouth

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11 JAN 2018

Political courage is required and determination to properly fund the NHS and Social Care

Below is an article I wrote for the Financial Times

There is nothing new about winter pressures in the NHS. What has changed is that those pressures have become relentless, extending year round into traditionally quieter months but deepening in intensity over the winter. The current crisis is not simply caused by the number of people turning up to A&E but because those who do are far more unwell and many more need admission. With hospital bed occupancy already running at unsustainably high levels and a growing shortfall in community beds and workforce, the health and care system can rapidly become overwhelmed. An upswing in norovirus and flu over the past fortnight seems to have been the final straw. NHS England had little choice but to implement its emergency plan to ease the acute pressure by cancelling routine surgery until the end of January. Unless we address the underlying issues across both health and social care this will however become the norm for every winter. Beyond that the unsustainable pressures will result in a collapse in routine waiting time standards.

Increasing life expectancy is one of the greatest successes of our age, but as we live longer and with more complex conditions, health funding has lagged behind. There has been an abject failure on the part of successive governments to plan for the sheer scale of the long term demand and costs associated with demographic change and for the change required to integrate of health and social care,

The House of Lords Select Committee set up to examine the long term sustainability of the NHS rapidly concluded that it could not do so without including social care. The government needs to take note before repeating the mistakes of the past. A green paper that looks solely at long term funding for social care will miss the point that these two systems cannot be considered in isolation from each other. Neither should anyone underestimate the challenge of delivering policy change in a hung Parliament or under a government whose energy is so consumed by Brexit.

There is a way forward but it will take political courage from both front benches and genuine willingness to put the public interest first. Before Christmas, 90 backbenchers from across both sides of the House of Commons, wrote to the Prime Minister urging a cross Party whole-system approach to the challenges and funding of the NHS, social care and public health. Select Committees could also play a role to help to build on existing work and set out the options for the public. Theresa May's former Chief of Staff has advocated a Royal Commission but we do not have the luxury of time to kick this important issue into such long grass.

Many of the options have already been described, for example by the Barker Commission and recent House of Lords inquiry. The reality is that we will all need to be prepared to contribute more if we want the NHS to remain a universal service, free at the point of delivery and meeting our needs both now as well as in the future. This cannot in my view fall entirely on working age employed adults but also needs to consider inter-generational fairness, wealth and contributions from those who are self employed. As graduates struggle with student loans it would be unfair to expect them also to shoulder the increasing costs of health and care for those in retirement irrespective of their wealth. We could look at ideas for a hypothecated health and care tax for example paid by those over forty and with income from any source above a set threshold. Some advocate introducing charging and top ups but these bring higher transaction costs and widen health inequality. The point is that all these options should be clearly set out alongside the consequences of a failure to invest more in the NHS, care, public health and prevention.

Since 2010, total health spending has risen by an average of just over 1% per year. This is far lower than the long term average increase of around 4% and comes at a time of extraordinary rise in demand and the costs of drugs and technologies. Real terms cuts to social care have added to the strains.

It is time to stop viewing health as a bottomless pit but rather as one of our greatest successes and make increasing investment a source of national pride. I cannot think of a better way for Theresa May to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS than by helping to make sure that it has a sustainable long term future.

9 comments

Not being a supporter of your government and a reader of many of your posts I have come to the conclusion you are in the wrong political party. Why, you yourself must realise the Tory party will never promote a system which benefits the many and not the few. Perhaps if your government went after the multi nationals that avoid paying tax in the U.K. We would have a fully funded NHS. Cheers.
- Peter Gunn

You're an excellent advocate for health and social care, and have long recognised that matters cannot remain as they are. I wish you were Secretary of State for Health, even though I wish the Conservatives were not in government. Political parties have studiously avoided the discussion and debate which is now so pressing and necessary. Surely, the UK should benchmark its standards and funding against the best providers in Europe and elsewhere, determine the standards that it should deliver, and develop the best funding model. You are so right about another Commission - that simply kicks the can down the road. As the Barker Commission commented, hard choices need to be made about tax and public funding. A political agenda to shrink the state to unsustainable levels runs contrary to the vital needs of health and social care, and the viability of public services. As a fortunate pensioner, I recognise that my generation should be contributing more, not least because we can afford it, so I support the idea of a health and social tax on the over 40s. More generally, regardless of the arguments against hypothecation, the concept will have public support because people are prepared to pay more if they believe the funds will be ring-fenced to support health and social care. I worry that Brexit can only make matters worse, in all the obvious ways, but also in the emerging decline of tolerance and compassion. You can make a real difference, and you are doing so. We need long term sustainable funding supporting a long term plan, and to the maximum extent practicable, a de-politicisation of these vital services. History is littered with the errors of successive governments in this arena, not least with constant restrucuring and the disastrous PFI initiative. There are many tough questions around funding, taxation, what should be free at the point of deilvery, and all kinds of bioethical dilemmas. But the nation cannot sit on its hands for any longer. The threat to your party is that the NHS/social care may bring down the government while it obsesses about fantastical solutions for Brexit, when it could have elected to remain in single market within the EEA. You're doing a great job, Sarah: please stay on the case, and let the public know what we can do to support you.
- Adrian Baskerville

I agree with the comment above in that we should chase multi nationals and other tax avoiders.We should also greatly increase fuel duty as many health problems exist or are exasperated by pollution expecially pollution from diesel vehicles. Of course people do not help themselves in this respect as they can often be seen driving round and round in circles in Kingsbridge because they are too tight to pay for parking.They would also improve their health if they were to walk more often. The point being that people often do not take responsibility for their own health and therefore I do not think they should be entitled to free health care and should pay for use which would encourage many to take better care of themselves and avoid drinking like fish and smoking like chimneys. There are also many procedures available on the NHS which should not be as this was not the intentions when this institute was first founded. Finally just to calm the doomsayers, Brexit will not make any difference to the NHS or any other aspects of living in UK and will only improve matters. Oh also Sarah Wollaston's comment suggesting that living longer is something positive is subject to one's perspective and not something I would agree with.
- Derek

I believe the NHS is struggling because it undertakes procedures that should not be freely available and the sooner everybody and the government accepts this the better. There could then be more money available for procedures and treatments that truly related to one's immediate health. I do however believe the time has come to consider charging patients for their treatment. This would enthuse people to take better care of themselves as we are all aware of the need for improvement in our diets and the need to abstain from intoxicating liquor. It has recently been reported that the British eat the most processed foods and salty snacks of anywhere in Europe. Terrible diets. Cutting back on pollution from too many vehicles would also help by improving health and therefore reducing the burden upon the NHS. I do also have difficulties in regard to people suing the NHS. This gives me many sleepless nights as I cannot feel comfortable with someone suing a service that is essentially free and by suing only creates a greater burden upon the NHS. I myself have had a couple of procedures done under the NHS which have not been altogether successful, far from it,but to sue the NHS for this poor treatment I received, well I couldn't.
- Derek

With you on this one Sarah. Keep up the good work. This issue is of much greater importance to we Baby Boomers than Brexit, so please remind Mrs May of this fact. Do you have Jeremy Corbyn's phone number by any chance..?
- Roger Westlake

Surely it is time we change our political rivalries to one about our collective community in the same way of Denmark and the Scandinavian countries. That means us accepting higher taxes in return for guaranteed access to free healthcare, welfare, social services and education for all.
- John Lloyd

Mr Gunn’s comment is interesting I was about to add having just read CityAm that you sound like a socialist not a conservative. Frankly if you don’t support lower taxes, free markets and less government intervention you really are not a Tory. The NHS and social care need reform and desperately so but all you politicians think of is taxing us more! The wealthy already pay a disproportionate amount of tax as you surely know. It’s a blunt and retrograde instrument that has never worked and never will this has been proved so many times. You talk in your brexit blog about reading facts but conveniently ignore them in this issue. Free at the point of use for all is exactly part of the problem. Rich people and even middle class with insurance simply do not need free healthcare. This is a fundamental issue with the system in the same way they don’t need free bus passes etc and winter fuel allowances. I’m sure as a doctor you mean well being concerned with wellbeing but you’re applying the wrong logic and thus wrong solution. You must also be able to see the waste and inefficiency in the nhs? Come on Sarah time to be a real conservative! Real care for those in need is not throwing money at it!
- jeremy williams

The only 'customs arrangement' Brussels would accept involves accepting ECJ law, which isn't what we voted for.
- EP

THe NHS needed £4 extra a year to stand still, It did not get it 2025/27. Brexit with no customs deal will cost NHS ENgland alone £124 million a day in tariffs on drugs alone, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Sarah knows this, it was told to her Health Committee on TV by the head of NHS ENgland. Theresa May has promised less than what they are owed for just one year BY 2022. Hilarious. Customs and Borders will cost £32billion a year after Brexit on top of what we pay now - for nothing. Brexit is costing one billion pounds a week and it is going on YOUR bill. The referendum cost half a trilllion pounds to stop the Tory financial market and companies going bust. You have to repay teh Bank of England. These will be accumulating every day after Brexit. If my vacuum cleaner was rubbish I would take it back, take back Brexit, we have been sold a pup.
- sivw

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07 JAN 2018

NHS Funding

Below is an article that I wrote for the Sunday Express

There is nothing new about winter pressures in the NHS. What has changed is that those pressures are now year round but in winter the crisis is far deeper.

NHS England has put in place a plan to deal with this by cancelling routine surgery, but this will not feel 'routine' for those in pain awaiting a hip replacement for example. I understand the need to focus here and now on emergencies but we should not have to accept that cancelling this kind of life-changing surgery becomes the accepted annual response to winter.

The causes of these pressures are well known. It is of course great news we are living longer but as we do so we are living with far more complex long term conditions and the cost of treatment and technologies continues to rise faster than increases to the NHS budget. NHS staff have done an heroic job but they and the whole health and care system are stretched to the limit as they cope with far more people who are seriously unwell.

We cannot continue to provide the service we all expect on current finances, staffing and infrastructure. It is time for an urgent review to find the funding that both the NHS and social care need in order to make it happen.

We also need to end the culture of short termism and look not just at the here and now, but plan properly for the future and look at health, social care and public health together.

The public are being let down by a political failure over past decades to plan ahead, to be honest about the scale of the challenge and to work across Party lines to find a fair solution.

Before Christmas 90 back bench MPs from across political parties tried to change this, we wrote to the Prime Minister calling for this approach. Likewise in my role chairing the committee that calls the PM to give evidence, I told Theresa May that Select Committees (which work across Party political lines), stood ready to help. The fact is that no Party has a monopoly on good ideas on how this funding could be achieved and in a hung Parliament it needs cross Party working to get change such as this across the line.

No one wants to have to fork out but the truth is that we need to be prepared to pay more to support health and care services or services will decline. There are serious questions about whether it is fair for this to fall entirely on those of working age through taxes. My personal view is that it is not and that we should look at how it could be shared fairly across generations.

I know many people argue it is time to introduce charges to the NHS but this risks widening inequalities and also introduces costs and bureaucracy associated with collecting these relatively small payments. I know, as a former GP, that many of my sickest patients struggling on low incomes would have delayed coming to see me had there been a charge. This can end up not only with worse consequences for health but costing the NHS more in the long run. I also feel strongly that charging for appointments would go against one of the great founding principles of our NHS, that it is free at the point of need. It's what makes our system the fairest in the world and we should beware undermining that.

I believe the best way forward is stick with our tax and National Insurance based system as the core funding but look again at how National Insurance is collected and from whom so it can became dedicated to funding the NHS and social care.

It is time for an NHS and care convention to explore all the funding options and explain these clearly to the public and to look again at the options for sharing the costs of social care so that we no longer have the awful care costs lottery of one in ten people over 65 facing catastrophic costs.

A convention should not ignore the ongoing need to reduce waste in our NHS and I hear many examples of this in my work as chair of the Health Select Committee. Making sure that all areas learn from the best performing Trusts for example. Progress is being made in many areas already, for example driving down the huge variation in the amount the NHS pays for identical products. We also have to go further on prevention. Anyone who has spent time in an emergency department on a Friday or Saturday night will know how much drunkenness adds to the workload and avoidably ramps up waiting times.

It's easy to focus on the negative stories but the fact remains that our NHS and is doing a remarkable job and in its 70th year we should should celebrate it's successes and grasp the opportunity to make sure that it can not just survive but thrive. Rather than seeing health and care spending as a 'bottomless pit' we should view funding these properly as a source of national pride. These discussions have now become a national emergency and its time to ditch the Party politicical bickering and make it happen for the whole system our NHS, social care and public health.

5 comments

We need to end internal markets between primary & secondary health, between Community
- Debra Woodhall-James

You can have a good cheap job but it will be slow You can have a fast cheap job but it will be poor quality You can have a good fast job but it will be expensive Whichever way you slice it, this is the reality of life. If we want a good NHS which delivers promptly we will need to pay for it.
- Bob Bowling

It's time to charge for the use of NHS to encourage people to improve their health themselves where they are able to. Increased costs are generally attributable to a decline in personal care and the consumption of huge quantities of fatty foods and sugary drinks. Say it as it is. If someone choses to continue to eat junk which is detrimental to their health I see no reason why I nor any other person should then contribute towards the cost of their medical needs. The main area where the government can raise further funds via national insurance,if this is the route upon which they wish to continue,would be to collect national insurance on one's entire earnings instead of having a cut off point as at present.
- Derek

I generally agree with your points, but you repeat a common statement that "extra costs will fall on people of working age through taxes". I am retired but I still pay tax. Many people on low wages and benefits do not pay tax, so "working age" is very misleading. I agree that extra money could be raised through the NI, which is now just another general tax, but this would be an extra burden on employers, many of whom struggle with such overheads. Maybe the better way is to merge NI into income tax and then fund NHS from the pool, then anyone who earns enough to pay tax will contribute. As for change, what other organisation is based on a business model created 70 years go and never changed?
- S Morrissey

Last winter my flatmate and I were very, very ill. My flatmate went to get help from the doctors at Compass House. He was told he could not see a doctor, go to the hospital, so he went to Brixham hospital where another nurse told him he could not see a doctor and go home we would be all right with Beconase sprays! The beconase did nothing for the flu or whatever it did. My friend was off work for a long time, I was in bed for a month nearly. We are both in our 60's, I am severely disabled. For 3 or 4 days I could see the angel of death beside my bed (an eye opener I did not know such a thing existed). That is health care in Britain. Give me the money to spend on myself and look after myself and let me retire to a warm, cheap country like Spain, so stay in the EU. They have one of the best helath care systems in the world.
- siv

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14 DEC 2017

Why Parliament Voted to Take Back Control

This week I voted for an amendment to the European Union Withdrawal Bill because it was necessary to guarantee that there can be Parliamentary scrutiny and sovereignty as we return control of our laws from Brussels. There have been strong opinions on both sides of the argument about this, and even suggestions that by backing this amendment I have somehow blocked Brexit, or increased the likelihood of another election. This is not true. I respect the referendum result and voted to trigger Article 50. We are leaving the European Union but need to do so in a way that leads to as few unintended consequences as possible.

In returning powers from Brussels we must not exchange one system with poor democratic oversight for another. As we take back control of our laws, Parliament has an important role to play in scrutinising the government's work. Both in my role as Chair of the Health Committee and as a Constituency MP it is my duty to be look closely at both the pitfalls and opportunities of the various options for the type of Brexit ahead.

Clause 9, which I and colleagues voted to amend, had such far reaching consequences that I have copied it verbatim below:

A Minister of the Crown may by regulations make such provision as the Minister considers appropriate for the purposes of implementing the withdrawal agreement if the Minister considers that such provision should be in force on or before exit day.

If left unamended, this clause would have been incompatible with the Prime Minister's pledge to give Parliament a 'meaningful vote' on the deal. In effect, it allowed Ministers to make changes to laws with no democratic check by Parliament. Its breadth even concerned Brexiteers like Jacob Rees-Mogg, who said during the debate, "clause 9 gives some powers that trouble even Eurosceptics. I have never felt comfortable with the self-amending part of the Bill."

I and my colleagues had made our concerns clear to government for many weeks ahead of the vote and we feel that this vote was entirely avoidable. The clause should have been removed and the government could easily have done so. This would have avoided the need for an amendment.

Far from obstructing Brexit, this vote strengthened its democratic underpinnings, preventing major constitutional change from potentially being pushed through purely by ministerial decree.

I have been dismayed with how irresponsibly my vote has been misrepresented in some parts of the press. I welcome robust debate and I am always willing to listen and to defend what I believe. Labelling MPs 'traitors' for defending a fundamental democratic principle or judges 'enemies of the people' for upholding the law, just fuels a hateful division. It also entirely misrepresents why I voted as I did and why I felt it was necessary.

As we build an independent Britain – we will need to work constructively with our European neighbours. The more I hear, during Select committee hearings, about the consequences that would arise from a disruptive and chaotic Brexit, the more I feel that we must try to achieve a soft landing. The consequences of no deal and no transition would be very serious indeed.

43 comments

Thank you for having the courage and conviction to vote for this amendment. The brexiteers become more extreme in their views and actions and any who disagree are portrayed as disloyal or treacherous. They must be countered by sound, logical argument by people like you to ensure that when we leave the EU, we do so on a sound and reasonable basis and do not just crash out. Thank you.
- Kevin Gleeson

" The consequences of no deal and no transition would be very serious indeed." IN YOUR OPINION
- mike

What rubbish - thoroughly disenchanted with our elected 'Representative'. Again.
- Hugh Welbourn

It’s about getting us ‘out of the eu’ but actually sliding back in by the backdoor. Which is actually worse than leaving in the first place. Still in the customs union, still in the single market, still got free movement with no say. I’m afraid our representative and the majority of parliament think we’re all a bit thick and not capable of making the right choice. They hold us in contempt. It’s not just here, the political elite in Europe hold their citizens with contempt also, hence the rise of far right parties in Europe. I’m sure the vast majority wouldn’t vote this way, but hey!! If they won’t listen. What an awful choice we’re left with
- John

Thank you for supporting the amendment to the Withdrawal Bill. The British public voted for powers to be 'returned to Parliament' not tranferred to individual Ministers enabling them to pass laws without scrutiny
- Steph Crutchley

You are put in Parliament by the people to represent OUR views NOT yours. Nothing in the above shows any sign of listening to US the people you are meant to represent . You are ONLY there because WE elect you. You are also part of a party and should also remember that . What you have done is a possible back door into a Marxist government that would destroy this country possibly forever and you should have the intelligence to realise this . The people voted for Brexit and just want to get on with it . Businesses need to see clear water ahead , what you have done and your arrogant lot is set this back. We the people who you claim to represent have had enough.
- Anne Swabey

Parliament gave the people the right to decide on brexit. We did and with a larger % turnout than for the recent election, so which is therefore more democratic? If you support democracy then the people must be obeyed not some false idea of the less democratic members of parliament!
- adrian lewis

Directed here by my email to you where I spoke of understanding your concerns re Clause 9, I now fear, having read your explanation, my sympathy was misplaced. The people of the UK, who you (the collective you) represent, voted to leave... that has to be at the forefront as to what type of Brexit you feel is best going forward. In an age when the population have never been better informed through MSM and social media, I still find it gulling how politicians continue to act as if they know best. And simply quoting Jacob Rees-Mogg as being concerned, yet not adding why he still felt inclined to support the Bill is disingenuous to say the least.
- Stuart Price

2nd paragraph of your "Blog" quote "as a Constituency MP it is my duty to look at both the pitfalls and various options for the type of Bexit ahead" Surely therefore it was your duty to "look at pitfalls,facts options etc etc etc" before becoming a Leaver, and then changing to Remainer, why the change? People of the UK voted to leave in a Democratically held Referendum , including 54% of your constituents, we entrusted the Conservative Party to honour that and get on with it, Teresa May is doing just that ,despite various factions holding her to ransom at every turn, this will only get worse coming back to Parliament with the opposition, SNP DUP various gangs of 12 who really can't accept Democracy. Your action has only strengthened Corbyn and his Marxist party, Teresa May deserves better, I feel totally let down, by your actions.
- Peter Mulloy

However well intended, a very poor decision and one which will risk further undermining our negotiating position at potentially great cost to our country. The opposition will doubtless be pleased with your conduct but I am very disappointed although, regrettably, not surprised.
- Brian Kelly

Absolutely shocked and disgusted that our local MP should be so treacherous towards the Prime Minister and to the majority of her constituents. I believe that she should be de-selected and an honourable replacement be put forward. I personally will not support her in any shape or form in the future.
- Mary Bell

Cannot but help agreeing with the post above from Mary Bell.
- bryan boswall

Those Conservative MPs who voted against the government cannot duck the self indulgent disloyalty they have demonstrated. Disloyalty to the PM, their Party and the majority of the electorate who voted to leave. Even the leaders of the EU acknowledge that this defeat weakens the government's negotiating position and increase the chance of a "no deal" exit. This, coupled with the gift handed to those who seek a Marxist government, does not bode well for the future. What is done is done but let us all hope that this mistake will not be repeated in the coming weeks and months.
- Anthony Croke

Well done, it takes courage. Go and get yourself a glass of white wine!!
- David Lavender

my comments re the same as Mary Bell de-selected or better resignation after letting us down
- jim davis

You were a Leaver first and changed - not good, you can't be trusted with our vote. I agree with the above people, let PM get on with her job with help from her party. This is not good for other countries looking in on us. This is not a well done to you but maybe 'sheep' is more like it!!
- Penny Davis

David Lavender how flippant, and pathetic are your comments. It therefore means that except for 12 Conservative MPs, the rest of her colleagues have no courage, and according to Sarah's blog they are the only ones who see the real dangers, they cannot trust the Prime Minister, her Ministers and elected Conservative MP's to get the best deal possible for leaving the EU, how insulting to those people. Arrogance at its peak, maybe the medical term could be the Anna Soubry Complex.
- peter mulloy

Steph Crutchley's post shows that she and Sarah Woolaston doesn't see the simplicity of how a Gov should work. The electorate elect , this is a show our trust, if that trust is broken then we elect some other party . By removing powers from the Cabinet the Rebels are frustrating the will of the people. I am surprised at Moog's comments quoted, Govs need to be able to get stuff done with out too much fuss. The EU now are saying that the the Article 50 period of 2 years can be extended I am afraid that if this goes on into a Labour Gov's term then Brexit will not get done which would be a disaster . The 12 Rebels have no business experience or Trade understanding . Not one of them was seen in the Pre referendum Trade select committee meeting with Professor Mindford that you can watch on Youtube. Nadhim Zahawi was there , he was at that time a remainer after that meeting he changed to a Leaver. There are very few excellent MPs that serve as they should as a conduit for the peoples will. Remainers should respect the 1st past the post system we have , they may also like to study this site , we should never have been considered part of the EU ! http://www.vernoncoleman ( dot com ) /euillegally.html
- Bill Davies

Sorry but I totally agree with Bill Davies comments, the thorn in the side of the Tories, of which I an one, will rumble on forever until it is totally removed.
- David Jennings

You say you are proud to have voted the way you did. What have you got to be proud off, causing more division in the country than there alredy is humiliating us as a country and your leader. Proud is not a proper way to justify what you did. You are a flip flopper anyway and should apologise or even better resign for your inconsistent views. How are we supposed to vote for you when you change your mind regularly. we vote for what you tell us you stand for, not for you to change you views.I'm not proud to have you as my MP when you embarres us on a world stage and belittle our standing in the world. Shame on you and your hypocracy..
- John shields

My husband and I agree with the majority of the above. My husband is of Italian origin and his relatives in Italy are on a three day week with a crippled economy caused by membership of the EU. They would also like to leave the broken EU. Your post contains I think I feel - you are in Parliament only by the will of the people to carry out the will of the people. You have failed in your duty and you have failed Theresa May. We will not support you by voting for you in this constituency again.
- Sharon Carrino

"Et tu, Brute....Knifed in the back, by one who I thought I could trust. I feel your actions and those of your fellow rebels have put OUR Prime Minister in a very difficult position to be able to negotiate a fair Brexit. Do you realise that you have jeopardised the entire future of The United Kingdom, on what terms it leaves the EU and where it will stand in the world, in the future? You really should be ashamed of yourself. Robert Summers Chairman of Wellswood Conservatives Torbay
- Robert Summers

So you have humiliated your PM,weakened the UK’s negotiating position,given encouragement to Juncker and Barnier,made the prospect of a Brexit deal even more difficult ,emboldened the Marxists and betrayed the electorate.Yet you claim on Twitter that you are proud of your achievement.If you are,then you are occupying a seat on the wrong benches in the Commons.
- MichaelR

I would urge those commenting above to take the time to read the text of the EU withdrawal Bill as proposed by the government. We are all agreed that we will leave the EU, but the Bill gives the government powers to amend any current UK legislation which originates from the EU in any way it sees fit - without having to seek parliament's approval first. This could have far reaching consequences for our personal lives and businesses - it includes legislation that covers maternity rights, our rights to keep our personal information confidential, environmental regulations.... Normally the government has to seek parliament's approval to fundamental changes to UK legislation. Why should changes to our statutes as a result of Brexit be treated any differently? Thank you, Sarah for voting for proper parliamentary scrutiny. Had the government dealt with these issues properly in the first draft of the Bill, the Brexit process would not have been held up.
- Sara Chisholm

Most of the people here who attack you do not understand the function either of our representative democracy or of the European Union. I support your action, and hope that you will continue to follow your conscience in voting for the good of your country. Thank you!
- Dr Robert Lawson-Peebles

Despite your excuses, you are a remainer as are all the other so called rebels and you clearly do not trust our Prime Minister, your leader who promised you all a vote. we need to look for another candidate to represent us, someone who knows what they feel on these issues not a last minute mind changer or turncoat.
- John Butler

It means taking our powers back when we get out of europe, then out parliament can bring in any laws they wish. You ae educated but have no sense or understanding of the matter. Watch question time from last Thursday where a man in the audience told you remainers the truth. The referendum was of the whole UK not constituency. You should be ashamed and as for courage, that does not come into it The country voted OUT so lets get out. You are a traitor
- Ken Lakin

What nonsense people write in relation to the nature of this very sensible amendment. I applaud Sarah for backing the amendment and also for making the very good point she does over clause 9. It could easily have been taken out, had the Government done so, there would not have been the degree of unrest over the potential consequences. It is ridiculous how these amendments have been taken out of context, they are not a 'sabotage Brexit' mechanism, merely an entirely sensible airing of concerns from many sides aimed at ensuring the legislation is properly scrutinized, why on earth wouldn't we want this on something as important as the Brexit deal? The government created a great deal of suspicion by virtue of its refusal to take out clause 9. People voted for Brexit and 'taking back control'. That's still what you end up with, law in this Country is subject to Parliamentary approval and scrutiny, that is how our system operates; Brexit changes nothing as to how we implement our own laws. Clause 9 however allows a 'Minister of the Crown' to draw up regulations, that would mean no scrutiny whatsoever; that can never be right in the way we legislate. Regulations are not the same as an enactment, clause 9 allows a single minister to implement secondary non debated legislation; that can never be right for something as important as this. "A Minister of the Crown may by regulations make such provision as the Minister considers appropriate for the purposes of implementing the withdrawal agreement if the Minister considers that such provision should be in force on or before exit day. " Like it or not, Theresa May does not have a strong negotiating hand, she lost her majority at the last election; this places an even greater duty upon Parliament to scrutinize the laws she she is proposing. This was an entirely sensible call by a responsible constituent MP acting in the interests of those in her locality, that includes those who voted for leave or remain.
- Nick Dilworth

Sarah is one of the few MPs who shows she reads her brief. What is forgotten is the referendum in 2016 was advisory but to see the reaction of politicians afterward they had clearly forgotten this. Parliament needed to formally vote to accept the result and then put in place withdrawal. That would have been sensible and surely within the Ken of our representatives. But what we have seen for the last eighteen months is incoherent lurching through one badly-drafted proposal to another. This is government by the seat of the pants and it isn't working. So when one of our representatives actually reads her brief to understand it she should be applauded. Not condemned and threatened with deselection. There is too much at stake for ill tempered lobs across the barricades. Leave that to the press.
- Helen Darch

She is a Remainer and a Traitor, 1 of the other 11 Heidi Allen has been hauled to a party meeting in South Cambs to face a de-selection battle this should be happening in Torbay. I will not vote for Sarah Woolaston again if she is still standing at the next election. Come on Sarah be honest about your intentions, instead of all these excuses
- Pat Brodie

What a lot of nonsense posted here. The passing of this amendment has placed the power to decide whether the brexit deal is acceptable or not firmly where it belongs. Parliament is the sovereign body, not the cabinet, the government or a handful of ministers. One of the planks of the leave campaign was to return power to parliament. To talk of treachery or deselection is just ridiculous.
- Bob Bowling

I agree entirely with Bob Bowling. Sarah Wollaston has acted perfectly correctly, according to her conscience, and posters like Pat Brodie who use such inflammatory language as "Traitor" should remember where such language leads.
- Dr Robert Lawson-Peebles

Many of the people on this message board are not from Totnes and don't seem to understand our constituency, Sarah is our representative and has always voted on issues for what she thinks is right rather than always follow the party line. As she achieved more than half the entire vote for Totnes and has been re-elected twice with a larger vote each time I'd say she's pretty popular. So please stop all this name calling and let our representative represent us in the way she has always done. This is a democracy and if you don't like it then simply vote her out when the next election comes. Intimidation has no place in anything other than a dictatorship.
- Jon Merriott

…sorry but I’m struggling to follow the logic here. These sanctimonious rebel MP’s (who all voted to remain in the EU) are now talking in dewy eyed terms about the sanctity of the UK parliament and democratic process, yet they were only too happy at the referendum to undermine our parliament in favour of the much more undemocratic EU. It seems that they only see the benefits of our democracy when it suits their objectives which seems to be either to stop, frustrate or soften BREXIT
- Mark A

Clause 9 is badly phrased, as it implies that a single Minister may change whatever he/she wishes without reference to Parliament. But we all know that this is nonsense, and Parliament could force a debate, and hence refusal, or amendment to the Minister's wishes. What I am dismayed about the most is that many people refuse to accept the referendum result; they should stop moaning, and set out to achieve a successful Brexit. The greatest danger by 'the rebels' is that they are encouraging Corbyn and Co to believe that they will form the next Government. Heaven help us, should that be the case!
- Barry Day

I don't just disagree with our MP on this. I am amazed by her lack of judgement and wit. The highlight above was where she acknowledge that the EU membership she urged us to vote for "lacked democratic oversight". She refers to "building an independent Britain". Surely any Tory MP urging Remain as she did (eventually) would have argued that we were ALREADY independent. Otherwise wasn't she therefore arguing for the British people to vote against their own independence? She sits in Parliament with that group of the most ardent Europhiliacs, federalists and remainers. When she railed on Twitter for months against Juncker, Brussels and the whole EU kleptocracy. Really? Judgement? I am sure Sarah is a very good doctor, and in many ways an intelligent person. But politics and political argument just isn't her thing is it? The bottom line is that Sarah is simply out of her depth in Parliament. Her lack of judgement shown in the Referendum, her bizarre behaviour since, and her completely incoherent articulation of her reasons for voting for this amendment are proof that she simply does not belong in Parliament. She is the best argument against open primary selection of Tory candidates that I can think of. Everyone in the area should mobilise to remove Mrs Wollaston (as much for her own good as our's). I think a Conservative who could honour the manifesto upon which they stood would be a start. A MP who could frame a coherent argument would be an added bonus.
- George, Paignton

Thank you Sarah for supporting the sovereignty of Parliament and safeguarding our parliamentary democracy. Please continue to do so .
- LizK

The people are sovereign in a democracy and they delegate their sovereignty to Parliament by election of representatives. In the case of Brexit Parliament voted for a referendum to make a stay or leave the EU decision. SW is a remainer trying to frustrate the will of the people. She has lost my vote.
- David, Brixham

Instead of all the arguing and bickering that goes on in parliament there should be far more intelligent and positive decisions made and made promptly with regard to the electorate. The facts are we should never have joined the common market in the first place. Now we need to leave as soon as possible and whether there is a deal or not is of no consequence as no one in any walk of life is able to conclusively forecast the proster and cons of leaving the EU. I suspect that the general populace will hardly notice the difference. It will however be good to leave the EU as they have lost direction especially over the last twenty years.
- Derek

A referendum was held with a decision on in or out. There was a result, Totnes also voted a majority for out. If our elected representative does anything to subvert the result, she will lose my vote next time round.
- John. Dartington

I am an employer of 50 full time people in a small manufacturing business . That gives me some right to comment here, not emotionally as some others have here , but practically . Brexit will be a disaster if it is handled the way it has been to date by this government, without any real plan. The original referendum allowed 'grown-up' politicians to brazenly lie to the electorate during live Televised debates ( most arguments made have been shown to be false) so it is essential that the government does not get the feeling that it has a carte blanche because the will of the people have given that mandate . The use of Darren Brown to give BoJo and his colleagues the hypnotic phrase "Take back Control" every xx seconds during the debate , in the hope of somehow hypnotising the electorate is an example of how far they wanted to go to get an OUT vote . If we are to unite this country and get something at all resembling a stable future we need politicians exactly like Sarah Wollaston, able and willing to stand up to Party dogma and ensure that the process is representaive and functional, not just ideological. 37% of the electorate does not a majority make - at least in a logical sense. if it does , it requires an open mind to allow for it to also change its mind if the truth comes out, which it appears to be doing at last . I call for a second "truthful " referendum , where the genuine facts are placed before us. If we dont get that then at the VERY LEAST we must let our elected representatives watch our backs and not consignus to very real changes in our earning ability ( or as some might say , being pulled over the cliff into an abyss of unknown depth) those elected individuals who read their brief , who work long ( often thankless ) hours going over dull boring details that will protect this country from the borish dogma of Nationalism. Noone can deny our genetic make up is now so mixed, there is little room for racial dogma, we all have genes from all races . I would listen to business people over the retired and to the populace as a whole if the facts put before them in a referendum were actually true - remember the 1.5m Turkish nationals who would be knocking at our front door and the now infamous 350m for the NHS . Lies of that nature should actually ensure that politicians who use those tactics are stripped of the dignity of being able to call themselves an elected politician. Call for a second Truthful Referendum , then we will ALL accept the results. The self inflicted open wound we live with at the moment is unlikely to heal without TRUTH.
- Gabriel David -

What an obnoxious and arrogant man whom assumes himself as a businessman to be above all others . The referendum was a democratic result and he needs to accept it and stop crying into his milk.It's quite clear from his comments that some are more dictatorial that democratic when their feathers are ruffled. Get real.
- Derek

Thank God for people like Sarah. David Cameron should never have held a referendom, without educating the electorate on exactly what and how the EU and its many institutions work, pros and cons, of which most of the electorate were and still are ignorant of (myself included of course). Interestingly, since we have been negotiating our withdrawal, we have learnt that immigrants/migrants to this country from Europe and beyond are not responsible for the ills of this country, a myth perpetuated by Nigel Farage and UKIP, but major contributors to its economic success. Just about every other claim by the Brexiters has no basis in fact. Most of the ills experienced by the people of the UK are the result of UK Government decisions on domestic issues, not rules and regulations introduced by the EU, which have on the whole benefited society across Europe. And Sarah's stance on the PM's promise of a 'Brexit dividend' for the NHS when we leave the EU, 'utter tosh' is spot on and supported by every economist in the land. If you believe that Brexiters you'll believe anything. You were seduced by the claim on the side of a bus during the referendom campaign, and you are still being deliberately misled by it now.
- Patricia Vincent

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