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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