Simon Clarke is a Conservative MP: he was elected to Parliament just one year ago. He’s a 33 year-old solicitor. In Mr Clarke’s constituency, Middlesborough South and East Cleveland, two-thirds of the constituents voted for the UK to leave the European Union. In all of the arcane and invariably disingenuous waffle that the British political class has been spewing out since the result of the EU Referendum in June 2016, Mr Clarke’s speech in the House of Commons last week was a breath of fresh air. Here it is reproduced in full in case you missed it.
‘It seems to me that Brexit is in fact quite a simple concept. My constituents knew that they were voting for 3 things: to have control of our immigration policy, to leave the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and to determine our trade policy. That is why it is so essential that we leave both the single market and the customs union. Neither institution is compatible with delivering what my constituents and our country voted for.
That is why I stand in frank disbelief at the nature of some of the comments we have heard this afternoon. I always regret what is called blue-on-blue action, but I cannot stand by the comments made by my Right Honourable Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry), who said that we have to “suck it up”. My constituents voted to leave the European Union precisely because they were not going to suck it up and because they knew what they wanted, which is for us to leave the European Union.
Fidelity to that vote, to our voters and to the promises that are implicit between the governing and the governed is essential to the health of our democracy, not just in the context of this debate but for the years and centuries that stretch ahead. It is clear to me that, as the Right Honourable Member for Don Valley (Caroline Flint) said, if we break faith and ignore their voice we will have created the most almighty problem for ourselves. Indeed, we will have lost the chance to have a more sensible debate about issues such as immigration, which have stirred such passions. We will only ever be able to get to a place where we can have a more balanced and constructive conversation once we have accountability in this House for who comes to our country and on what terms.
With that in mind, we have to recognise, when we hear comments about how this is playing to extremists, that the real danger with extremism in our politics is if we ignore what people voted for. We have seen in Germany, in Italy and even in the United States what happens when people believe that their voice is not being respected. That is the danger here – because, my goodness, we will look back on this as the most cataclysmic mistake if we unleash some of the forces which are all too eager for this House to fail to deliver what the British people voted for. That is my warning to colleagues, and that is why I will categorically not vote for any amendment that fails to deliver the Brexit that this country demands.’
There you have it.
In even fewer words, if the British political class fails to honour the result of the EU Referendum by failing to remove the UK from the EU Customs Union, the Single Market and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice there will be hell to pay in our society. A failure to deliver Brexit will indicate to the British people that voting for something, anything is a waste of time. And when people in a democracy, or what they think is a democracy, discover that voting is a waste of time, they turn to other means to get their point across to those who govern them. And we really don’t want to go there.
Three cheers for Mr Clarke MP! I hope my own Member of Parliament, Mr Douglas Ross, listened intently to Mr Clarke’s eloquent speech.