Dear Ben Bradshaw MP #Brexit

An open blog to my MP Ben Bradshaw

Ben, I am a self standing environmental campaigner, I have no affiliations to any organisations or political parties. I have campaigned to remain in the EU and have written about it extensively since the referendum – see here. I write from an environmental perspective because that is what I know about but the principles apply to all sectors of our society.

I have been reading a bit about what the legal profession has been saying about the EU Referendum and what is required before the Article 50 button can be pressed. It is very interesting! You might find this article “Pulling the Article 50 Trigger: Parliament’s Indispensable Role” worth reading – it has been written by the UK Constitutional Law Association. In essence it says that before a Prime Minister can ‘pull the Article 50 trigger’ (the formal and binding action needed to leave the EU) Parliament needs to pass an Act of Parliament to endorse the EU Reference result, i.e. Parliament needs to pass a law saying we are going to leave the EU.

The House of Commons currently has a majority of sitting MPs who are opposed to leaving the EU and therefore it is possible  that it would be impossible to pass such an Act and therefore it would not be within the gift of the next Prime Minister to press the Article 50 button.

You might argue that this undermines the democratic process – the country has spoken and therefore MPs ought to act in light of that. You are welcome to that view but the UK Constitution is also clear about what needs to be done and it is not done until ‘the fat lady sings’.

In my view the Referendum campaign was a complete disgrace underpinned by lies, counter lies, hatred and division. As a result many people voted for issues entirely unrelated to what was stated on the ballot paper.

If the environmental sector had taken its lead from popular opinion very little would have been achieved over the years. We need to fight for what we believe in using the legitimate avenues open to us. Unfortunately the environmental NGOs appear to have been castrated by the Charity Commission / Government  on this matter and cannot / will not show the leadership required.

You have shown exemplary leadership during the EU Referendum and I am proud to live in a city that voted to remain in the EU.

So my question to you is, will you hold the Government to account and ensure an Act of Parliament is brought before the Commons and the Lords which would facilitate the UK’s departure from the EU? Additionally will you then campaign and vote to defeat this legislation?

Alternatively if you feel there are other better ways  which will ensure we remain in the EU I would love know what they are!

Best wishes

Adrian Colston, a resident of Exwick in Exeter.



18 thoughts on “Dear Ben Bradshaw MP #Brexit

  1. Well written. There is no clear definition of ”Leave’, so how can people possibly have known what they were voting before or against? The Leave campaign appeared to offer supporters strict immigration controls which those very same campaigners are now disavowing. Remain voters may have opted for ‘Leave’ if free movement of people was included in the definition of Leave.
    We are now in the incredible situation of politicians trying to define the terms of reference of the most important electoral decision for generations. Is it a Norway deal, a Swiss deal, a Canada deal or no deal at all? This is not an acceptable situation for any country, let alone one of the world’s leading democracies.
    It is up to parliament to reclaim the credibility of our system by rejecting this referendum on the basis that no one, including parliament itself, has the foggiest idea of what the referendum was actually about.

  2. Thank you all for the breath of fresh air. I am proud to have been educated in Exeter and to have grown up largely in the South Hams. I am mystified by the Cornwall question and thoroughly depressed by the whole debacle. (thanks to the EU for that word). I can’t think of anything which will help but I pray there is still hope of a solution. The majority of voters surely had no real idea what would happen following an ‘out’ vote though we were given a general idea of the financial dangers. We were given no idea of the possible extent of the unrest and hardship which could follow, nor were we given any idea of the possible extent of reform which could be obtained in the EU with the help of other concerned members had we remained . Parliament certainly has no idea of the sequence of actions to follow post referendum and so the referendum must be invalid and is dangerously devisive. Thank you for your leadership, Adrian.

  3. “In my view the Referendum campaign was a complete disgrace underpinned by lies, counter lies, hatred and division.”

    Yes, the Referendum Campaign was a complete disgrace. Yes both sides lied. If Cameron and Osborne had been more measured in what they said, maybe more people would have believed them.

    “As a result many people voted for issues entirely unrelated to what was stated on the ballot paper.”

    This is always true in any referendum or vote – people take sides regardless of the arguments or whether they understand them.

    One thing was clear from people on both sides of the argument throughout the campaign, and afterwards – that a win by even a single vote, regardless of the turnout – would be regarded as a win. This took into account all the legal niceties that you have mentioned in your report.

    The rules were clear before. If they were not clear, you should have got them clarified before voting took place, not afterwards,

    I think that this post does you no credit at all, and indeed tends to undermine one’s confidence in you.

  4. Adrian,

    I had said all that I wanted to say in this discussion, but your reply leaves me perplexed.

    A neutral reply would have been “I will take your comments into account”.
    A positive reply would have been to point out any factual errors that I might have made, or indicate something that I misunderstood.
    But the reply you made seems to be saying “I am right, and anyone who disagrees with me can go hang”. Now this is probably not your intention, but that is how it comes across to me.

  5. ‘We will have to agree to disagree’ patently does not mean ‘anyone who disagrees with me can go hang’. It is a perfectly well-known phrase politely acknowledging the unlikelihood of overcoming disagreement on a matter without being antagonistic.

    How absurd to re-write someone’s words to mean something different from what they said in order to take offence at it.

  6. For what it’s worth Adrian I have written also to Ben along the same lines. A referendum is not legally binding. Sovereignty lies with parliament as they are duly elected and represented by us the people. However MPs are not delegates either and can exercise their own judgment with regard to parliamentary issues. The alternative is mob rule and the reason why we have MPs. I sincerely hope that Article 50 will not be triggered as I wish to remain an EU citizen.

  7. Kate, Ben is a nice chap and a hard worker but appears to stand on the right wing of the party. Is this what we want now, in the face of a potential Tory government that is more right wing than Thatcher? Not for me.

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  9. Adrian
    Thanks for your letter to Ben Bradshaw.

    It seems that in reality the referendum is only an advisory mechanism, not a legally binding measure.

    As the Leave campaign continuously reminded us, we have a Sovereign Parliament, (with delegated authority), which should not be told what to do by external bodies. This also means that MPs should vote for or against leaving the EU, taking into consideration the referendum result, but not straight-jacketed by it.

    The best interest of the country, not the view of the party nor the press, nor even a poorly thought out and badly conducted referendum, should inform their decision. This is surely what sovereignty is truly about, and has been used for major national decisions: (for instance the parliamentary vote not to get involved in the Syrian war).

    Jeremy Brown

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