My speech in the EU Withdrawal Agreement debate

I know that numerous Members, particularly on the Conservative side, are finding this a very difficult decision to make, so perhaps I could briefly explain how I have gone about trying to reach my difficult conclusion.

The first thing I asked myself was: what do my voters in Wokingham want me to do? Where they have a very strong majority for a certain conclusion, I would need an extremely good reason to disagree with them. It is quite clear from all those who have communicated with me—talked to me, sent me emails—that there is a very big majority in Wokingham against accepting this agreement. It has brought together people who voted remain and people who voted leave. They have come to the same conclusion—they would like a different outcome afterwards, but they have come to the same conclusion:  this is not an agreement that the United Kingdom should in any circumstances sign up to. The national polling reflects this, so this is a matter of interest to all Members. The agreement has somewhere between 15% and 25% support—on a very good day in a favourable poll—meaning that roughly four out of five people have considered it and think it a very bad idea. I would urge all to bear that in mind before they cast their vote this afternoon.

The second thing I asked myself was: what have I and my party promised my electors in Wokingham and the wider electorate in the United Kingdom whom we serve? I and the national manifesto in 2017, which gave me my mandate, said that we would see Brexit through, that it would take two years after the formal notification had been received, that no deal was better than a bad deal. Of course we would do our best to get a really good deal, which was our preference. The manifesto of the national Conservative party wisely said that the Government would negotiate both parts together—that any withdrawal issues would be negotiated in parallel with the future trading arrangement and future partnership.

How wise that was! At that point, the Government and our leader understood that compromises would be made and that, if they were to make concessions in the withdrawal bit, they would want the good news in the partnership bit to be nailed down at the same time. Unfortunately, the Government changed their mind about that shortly after the general election. That has let the public down, because it means that we have not used the purchase of all the concessions they made in the withdrawal agreement to gain what they thought was needed in the future partnership agreement. I feel very bad about that. I have to say to my electors that in order to get closer to what I and the Government promised, I must say  no to half the total agreement (the half we are voting on today) as it is so obviously weighted very strongly against the United Kingdom and our interests.

Then I come to the third thing. My electors elected me to exercise my judgment. They expect me to read all the documents, understand the background and study major matters for myself. On this happy occasion, their view and my view coincide. I have studied all the documents and closely followed the negotiations. I have offered a great deal of advice to the Prime Minister and her team. Much of it, I am afraid, has not been taken, and thus we are where we are, as the Attorney General said. My study of the documents tells me that the withdrawal agreement is not leaving the EU. Were it to pass, it would be followed by an extremely bad piece of legislation recreating all the powers of the EU and applying them to us for a period of between two and four years. We  will not even be told for how long because that is in the gift of the EU and the negotiations.

We might also have to accept lots of rules and trading arrangements in perpetuity because of the most unfortunate Irish backstop, which has been placed in the agreement. Since none of us wants to break up our country, the only way to fulfil the requirements of this solemn treaty would be for the whole United Kingdom to stay in all the arrangements the EU demanded. The agreement would mean that for at least two years, and maybe four years, the EU could legislate in any way it saw fit over an extremely wide range of issues—not just relating to business and trade—and this House of Commons would have no voice, no vote and no right to do anything other than implement it faithfully and fully without our amending it or even complaining through a reputable mechanism.

I do not see how anyone could possibly inflict that upon a great country that has recently voted to be sovereign and take back control. I do not see how this House could possibly vote for this agreement when it has open-ended financial commitments on an enormous scale. The Treasury has—optimistically, I think—priced them at a pretty big £39 billion, but there are no numbers in the agreement, no agreement about the bills that would be set. There is also a mechanism that allows the EU to send us bills under very broad headings and a referee system to deal with disagreements that is heavily weighted in favour of the EU and under which any legal matters would be resolved by the European Court of Justice.

Who on earth would agree to pay unlimited unknown bills without genuinely independent arbitration over their purpose? When will the Government give us any purpose for offering to pay all this money? They are in this absurd position because of the way they have handled the negotiation, of having decided to pay the money without securing any goods or services in return. When I go shopping, I do not put £39 on the counter and say to the shop owner, “That is your money whatever happens next. Now can we for the next 21 months discuss whether you will let me have anything in return for my £39?”, but that unfortunately is what we are being asked to approve in this agreement this afternoon.

In conclusion, for me it turns out to be an easy decision. I am sorry that for a lot of my right hon. and hon. Friends it is not so easy. I never find it easy to vote against the Government I want to support. In this Parliament, I have very rarely done so,but on this issue I have voted against the Government before and will vote against them again this afternoon, because it is a dreadful agreement. It is a fully binding treaty with no exit clause. We would not be able to get out of it. There would be requirement after requirement. We will have subcontracted our legislation to someone we cannot control and would have to obey and we will have offered to pay them a lot of money for no obvious good reason.

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83 Comments

  1. William Long
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    It is a terrible comment on the Conservative Parliamentary Party that the great majority of them voted for this appalling agreement even though a majority of the House of Commons did not. For once, we have something for which to thank the Labour Party and its allies on the opposition benches.

    • oldtimer
      Posted March 30, 2019 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      An excellent speech, to the point. I can only conclude that the PM is a bonehead, incapable of critical thinking, or a fully signed up EUrophile determined to turn the UK into a vassal state.

      The readiness of the late switchers among Conservative MPs to back this WA, in return for May’s statement that she would resign once it was passed, is shocking. This will have done the Conservative party lasting damage and reputational damage to those with leadership ambitions. It will be rightly seen as putting party before country.

      • Martin R
        Posted March 31, 2019 at 1:30 am | Permalink

        A bonehead, incapable of critical thinking, and a fully signed up EUrophile determined to turn the UK into a vassal state. There, fixed it for you.

    • mancunius
      Posted March 30, 2019 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      To be fair, some Tory MPs voted for it out of fear for the delay and reversal of Brexit that the remainers on both Tory and the Labour benches (who also opposed the WA) were and are planning for next week: and that was their motive for rejecting the WA.

      Remainer MP cross-party machinations would come to nothing if we only had a principled PM who actually wanted to leave the EU, and who gave us a WTO exit.
      This one will not. Sir Bill Cash pointed out that Mrs May must have been preparing her Chequers reversal while the Withdrawal Bill was actually being passed.

    • Hope
      Posted March 30, 2019 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      May’s servitude collusion plan is so bad she offered to resign, twice, over it. Why would Tory MPs vote for it! Secondly, if were accepted then phase two would be worse with EU leading UK traitor remainers to follow like the Pied Piper. It is delusional to think phase two would offer any opportunity for the UK if May’s servitude plan was passed. Parliament cannot stop Brexit.

      JR, you must realise that your party is done. The only possible get out of jail card is no deal on 12/04/2019- and then I think people will never trust your party because it is in government. Labour are not so it gives them an excuse.

      Osborne makes clear CCHQ overrules local associations for people such as Grieve. Again, if your party had any sense it would sack Rudd, Hammond, Greg Clarke and Gauke. Acting against government and country and calling 17.4 million people extremists is not a good way to win votes when breaking promises to honour referndum and manifesto. The irony being May called your party nasty twenty years ago and she has timesed by a factor of over 17 million made it far worse!

      May failed to deliver on her 108 promises to leave without a deal on 29/03/2019, a promise to the People of this nation not parliament, she does so again on 12/04/2019 I fear there will be repercussions for all MPs until the swamp is cleared. This is not about Parliament or what MPs want it is about the nation, representative democracy and what the public voted for. Consent to be governed is required.

      • Hope
        Posted March 30, 2019 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

        JR, suggest Greg aha do points on customs union repeated ad finitum. Being in a customs union will be catastrophic to our economy.

        Lord Mervyn King says leave without a deal. The EU will not offer a good deal. It was known from the outset and obvious to everyone. May tried to use time and lies to convince us otherwise. It has failed. Game is up. Leave WTO.

        • Hope
          Posted March 30, 2019 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

          Greg Hands.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 30, 2019 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      Indeed it is. Even Mogg, Rabb and Boris I understand. The deal is so appalling that no one should be voting for it ever. Only an idiotic PM and Government would even ask them too.

      If it did/does go through the next government will be put in an appalling straight-jacket.

      • Stephanie Neal
        Posted March 30, 2019 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

        If the WA gets passed, there won’t be a next Government. Firstly, leavers will not vote for them and secondly, or more importantly, the EU will probably ban elections in Britain.

  2. Bryan Harris
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Very well said …

    I fear nobody was listening.

    • eeyore
      Posted March 30, 2019 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      Does anyone listen in the House? They seem mostly to be fiddling with their phones.

      But ‘twas ever this. We have descriptions from two centuries ago of hon. members lying on the benches in greatcoats and top-boots, cracking nuts, eating oranges and sifting through their correspondence while Pitt and Fox orated over them.

    • Hope
      Posted March 30, 2019 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      They were outside parliament. Money that could be used on our public services. Not EU public services and infrastructure.

    • Jagman84
      Posted March 30, 2019 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

      Casting pearls (of wisdom) before swine (HoC troughers). They are representatives but obviously not the for their electorate.

    • Stephen Priest
      Posted March 30, 2019 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      “It is a fully binding treaty with no exit clause. We would not be able to get out of it.”

      This is the crux of the matter. How could any one vote for it?

      • Bryan Harris
        Posted March 31, 2019 at 8:10 am | Permalink

        @Stephen Priest

        That really is the point – How could anyone with any marbles consider this a viable option….?

        Is there something else going on, globally or otherwise, that we have not been made aware of, that is forcing MP’s to vote this way?

  3. Nick
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Sir John

    A huge thank you to yourself and your like-minded colleagues for all you are doing to fight for what the British people voted for. Unfortunately the traitors within the Conservative Party have betrayed Brexit and no longer speak for me ( a life long Tory voter) or millions of others. I have today joined the Brexit Party and will no longer be voting for any of the currently established parties. How I wish we had a Donald Trump over here as our leader.

    • MickN
      Posted March 30, 2019 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      Yes I’ve also just paid my £25 . If only we get 17.4 million others too !!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 30, 2019 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      Nor myself – also a lifelong Tory Voter (other than for John Major after his ERM fiasco) I could not bring myself to vote for such a pathetic dope who had damaged the economy so masively (and entirely predictably) and yet could not even apologise for it. Nor in the last European Elections where I voted UKIP (when they had the largest vote of all the parties).

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted March 30, 2019 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      Me too Nick. I can’t trust any of the other parties anymore. They need a wake up call. I just wish more of John’s colleagues thought the same way about the EU as he does but it would seem even after having the implications of staying in spelt out to them that they would still rather make us slaves of the EU. Well, they know where they can stick that! I so looked forward to moving back to England from Scotland as the mp here was a Brexiteer but even he has voted for Mays WA. He’s toast as far as I’m concerned.

  4. MickN
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    I had a lady canvasser for the conservative party in the local elections visit me today. She was very sweet when I told her that the conservative party that I have voted for on nearly every occasion on the last 45 years had left me disgusted and ashamed of my country. She said that she felt the same but that these are local elections. I had to tell her that whilst I agree with her that I am so utterly angry with the whole sell out, that I will not vote for any candidate that has conservative by their name ever again. I reassured her that the other main parties I hold in equal contempt. I apologised to her and hoped that she did not think that I was shooting the messenger, but I hope she will convey my message loud and clear to the local association.

  5. mary
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    One of the few isolated voices of reason telling it how it is.

  6. Dave
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Take a bow for your stance. May’s WA is a disgrace and no one, let alone any MP should vote for it knowing the position it puts this country in.
    Thank you for standing up to it.

  7. majorfrustration
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Its about time the MSM highlighted the many cons of this WA. What also gets me is that the likes of say BBC and C4 allow Remainers to comment that leaving would be disastrous without asking to explain their comments. Placid acceptance – so much for investigatory journalism.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 30, 2019 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      Indeed the BBC propaganda outfit is an outrage. Listen to Any Answers today, the presenter is clearly a strong remainer (with all standard BBC views) who just decides to take on the Brexit callers (with the usual remainer drivel & propaganda). Yet with remainers who call in she just seems to nod them on in agreement.

      The BBC is just wrong on almost every single thing from Climate alarmist, ever more government, tax, red tape, regulations and ever more EU.

  8. jane4brexit
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Only a few more votes needed and Parliament will have to discuss how to get us the Brexit we want, yougov petition no. 237487 “The Prime Minister should advise Her Majesty the Queen to prorogue Parliament”:
    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/237487

    • David Price
      Posted March 31, 2019 at 7:30 am | Permalink

      signed it, now at 98,323 and the immediate reply dated 18-March was;

      “The Government has no plans to prorogue parliament and remains committed to delivering an orderly exit from the EU in line with its pledge to deliver on the outcome of the referendum”

      • jane4brexit
        Posted March 31, 2019 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

        It has seemed to stay around that figure for a week or so. It shows how I have lost faith in voting etc., that I find myself wondering if that is convenient or suspicious, something that would never have ocurred to me until recently. MPs discussing whether Parliament needs to be temporarily disbanded, to get the will of the British people through, would certainly be another unusual event!

  9. L Jones
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your principled stance, Sir John.

    I do wonder if the majority of those MPs who voted for the Treaty have actually read it for themselves, or have just depended on their minions to do that for them, and then advise. And we know what that advice would be from most civil servants.

  10. formula57
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    This speech was reported to me by my mother with the comment John Redwood seems sound and you can tell what he is talking about. I assured her it was so.

    Thank you afresh for your unstinting efforts.

  11. rose
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    A very good speech. I should like to have heard it.

    How can so many Conservatives have abandoned the Union? Including the Attorney General who compounds the offence by referring to the EU as “the Union”. Talk about going native.

    • rose
      Posted March 30, 2019 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      I notice Mrs Soubry may have abandoned her party but she has not abandoned the Union.

  12. agricola
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    As I said shortly after your speech, it brought clarity where there was confusion, so thank you again.

    What I find incredulous is that so many of your party would vote for it, effectively selling out the country and it’s people in the process. Not just lobby fodder in fear of the whips but supposedly intelligent senior members of the party who would aspire to supreme office. How could we the electorate ever invest trust in the future of the UK in their tainted hands.

    If May in her political death throes applies logic, then she can only take us out of the EU without this appalling WA. The only other option is a swamp clearing general election in which all those who would subject us to the WA are deselected and replaced with candidates who believe in leave. Anything less and you will get slaughtered by Brexit candidates to the extent of opening the door to power for others. Others being Corbyn and his Marxist rabble. Even they will fail to have an easy ride in Labour leave constituencies.

    The majority in your parliamentary party need to go to confession before the electorate and beg forgiveness for the trauma they have subjected the electorate to.

  13. Lifelogic
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    An absolutely excellent contribution. Why on earth would anyone other than a traitor or a fool, support such a truly appalling surender document?

    Charles Moore today in the Telegraph is spot on too. He details the many appalling failures of the May government.

    He concludes:-

    From the Sixties until now, even under Mrs Thatcher, the Tory establishment has been pro-European and has forced the eurosceptical rank-and-file to lump it. Now that Mrs May has failed, and people like Philip Hammond, Amber Rudd and Greg Clark have actively sabotaged everything, this has to end and I believe it will. Instead of burning party cards, Brexiteers should be joining up.

    • Al
      Posted March 31, 2019 at 6:34 am | Permalink

      The problem with joining up is that, as we have found out, if the membership or local committee do not support a candidate, it is the membership that CCHQ would rather lose than the candidate: See Soubry. Grieve’s reaction to the no confidence vote merely confirmed it.

  14. Richard1
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    An excellent speech, congratulations. Had I been an MP I wouldn’t have found either of the govts threats – a long extension or WTO Brexit – remotely alarming since both would be greatly preferable to this terrible deal.

    Another thing I can’t figure out – why is ‘may’s deal + customs union’ materially different from ‘may’s deal’, since the WA effectively locks us into the CU anyway unless we want to see UK(NI) annexed without a vote of its people?

  15. Phil
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Very well said, thank you John.

  16. Edward2
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful speech.
    Shame the BBC and others didn’t feature it.

    • An idea...
      Posted March 31, 2019 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      Wonderful speech.
      Shame the BBC and others didn’t feature it.

      >
      The BBC are mainly interest in identity politics, if John declares himself transsexual and starts dressing in frocks, they might cover his speech.

    • hefner
      Posted April 2, 2019 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      Ever thought of watching BBC Parliament live?

  17. mancunius
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    A perfect summary. And once again, thank you for that heartening speech.
    It feels now that the remainers (including Mrs May, who is clearly under a malign influence) are trying to gaslight the majority. Their latest trick is to claim we were not (and are not) the majority at all. The next stage is to provoke us into agreeing to a second referendum. The third stage will be for remainer MPs to manipulate the question so as to exclude any real leaving option. Then globalists and big business would overwhelm the campaign with vast amounts of remainer money and globalist fearmongering, in the hope it will work this time round.
    We have waited patiently since June 2016, now we really must leave, by hook or by crook, while we still can.

  18. acorn
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    I have not looked on Hansard to see how many “give way” requests you had. I see you have not included any in your edit. They are an indication to us out here, how seriously your fellow MP take what you are saying.

    • Edward2
      Posted March 30, 2019 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

      That’s a poor comment acorn
      You have to stand up and argue your case.
      Do you just support group think ?

      • acorn
        Posted March 31, 2019 at 11:04 am | Permalink

        Sorry. Your disconnected comments don’t make sense.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 31, 2019 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

          Oh well then acorn I will try to connect.
          You criticise our host for stating his case in an arena which promotes debate and the exercise of different opinions.
          Just because you and others have different opinons you say it is not valid because others disagree.
          Get it now?

  19. James Dixon
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    170 Conservative MPs including a number from the cabinet have now written the PM a letter demanding a brexit very soon even if it means no deal. Hurrah. Unfortunately, the occupant of number 10 will, I expect, ignore the good advice as usual. Prying her out of number 10 is harder than prying a limpet off a rock bare-handed.

    My own conservative MP (a BRINO supporter) didn’t even have the decency to respond to my email concerning my misgivings over May’s chequers proposal. I won’t bother contacting him again, I will simply not vote Conservative in the next election. Or the one after that, and so on and so on until he is ejected from the House. It is extremely easy for the electorate to monitor an MP’s voting history these days, and adjust their voting intentions accordingly.

    • Jolene Driscoll
      Posted March 31, 2019 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      I have written three emails to my local MP over the course of the last year. He has always responded saing he supportes the will of the people and the Brexit we voted for. Then, last week, I wrote him a lnog email outlinging my concersn with this deal and urged him not to agree to it. He responded by telling me he would be agreeing to it as it was the best deal we would get and he alos voted out a ‘No Deal’ option. I was so angry. I responded and without going into detail, told him that this deal, which he supported and stated was honouring the will of the people and delivering Brexit was the total opposite. I then stated that at no time ever in the future would I vote Conservative again.

  20. GilesB
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Great speech. Well done!

    The indicative vote process on Monday is expected to lead to a majority for a permanent Customs Union. This must be resisted. We cannot give access to our market with no reciprocity. Nor can we allow the EU to accept on our behalf a massive tariff on say Scotch Whisky.

    Also, you need to prepare for the EU only agreeing to an extension on April 10 if the UK accepts unconditionally the Withdrawal Agreement

  21. John Hatfield
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    Well done John.

  22. Mark B
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Good evening.

    Good speech. It is such a shame that the government will not listen to you.

  23. Nicholas Murphy
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Good speech, Sir John. I was also impressed by that of Bill Cash.

  24. Richard1
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    Apparently a German foreign office minister, a social democrat called Mr Roth, has spoken in exceptionally rude terms about Brexit and the UK govt, describing UK ministers as “clueless” and offering the fatuous explanation for Brexit that “90% attended elite boarding schools”. Leaving aside the falsehood of this assertion, the language and inanity of the message is striking. It comes only days after the whole German political establishment has been puffed up in righteous indignation after President Trump’s ambassador in Germany expressed disappointment at the German defence budget – justifiably since its a breach of NATO commitments and the shortfall falls on US taxpayers in the main.

    The Remarks of the foolish Herr Roth should be publicised. It reminds us why we might not want to be in a political union with other countries such as Germany, and so be subject to the power of politicians we don’t elect and can’t remove.

  25. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    This would indeed be worse than slavery.
    We pay what they and they tell us what we get and have to do in return. Crazy.
    This woman has to go now, please.

  26. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Reverting to the Turkey Trap, I find this comment on Sunday February 25th 2018:

    http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2018/02/25/the-eu-seems-intent-on-no-deal/#comment-921152

    “I’ve watched four politics programmes this morning and on each there was at least one person who assumed as a matter of course that being in the/a customs union with the EU was the key to keeping an open border in Ireland. I would like to think that the government has been laying a cunning trap for Jeremy Corbyn, and also the rebel Tory MPs, and is just waiting until after his speech tomorrow before forcibly pointing out that a customs union would certainly be not sufficient for that purpose, and in fact most probably it is not even necessary for that purpose. However now I’m no longer sure that the government itself understands this, despite what was written in its position paper last August.”

  27. Julie Dyson
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Bravo! Very well argued, highlighting all the most important points accurately and honestly. The WA is quite patently a surrender document in all but name, and one to which no self-respecting representative of our nation should ever put their name.

    I rather suspect that those whom did not squirm uncomfortably in their seat will one day also come to rue the day they did not pay closer attention to its content. You can lead a horse to water…

  28. Lynn Atkinson
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    Very disappointing that MPs are weighing in against his constituency Party in favour of Grieve. They just can’t stop digging can they?

    • Gareth Warren
      Posted March 30, 2019 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

      I saw a speech Grieve gave to local constituents on leave.eu ‘s twitter feed where he claimed a no deal brexit “would cost UK businesses £13 billion extra a year”.

      The contempt he must hold his constituents knows no bounds, I’m not surprised he lost a vote of no confidence.

      Quite a few “project fear” proponents will. be looking over their shoulders.

  29. Alison M
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for all you are doing.
    There are powerful underhand forces at work trying to steal Brexit from us.
    Vested interests in government media and big business who have no morals
    We trusted the powers that be to deliver Brexit – they lied to us
    Brexiteers in cabinet were misled
    A plot was hatched to give us a deal so bad we would think remaining was better
    Project fear was and is a subversion of democracy
    It was made to seem difficult when if people had acted in good faith it could have been easy
    Our faith in our ancient Parliament and democracy in Britain is nearly shattered
    Surely there is something we can do on the legal or constitutional front to deliver a clean Brexit?
    I am so upset about what they are doing our democracy.
    I voted leave for our people but also the people of Greece who were crushed by Brussels. For the people of Southern Europe who are unemployed. If we can’t escape their grasp who can given our long history of freedom. We need to be a beacon of hope for Europe again.
    If we don’t get out, Teresa May and her remainer cabinet and all the anti democratic remainers in Parliament will be remembered as the Treacherous Parliament and the history books will reveal all their underhand devious ways
    I hope the ERG have a plan because if you haven’t surely we need to get together as many of our brains as possible to defeat them. Because as one of the speakers in Parliament square said yesterday it’s no longer are you a leaver or a remainer but are you a democrat or an anti-democrat. There is too much a stake to let them win.

    • margaret howard
      Posted March 31, 2019 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      “I voted leave for our people but also the people of Greece who were crushed by Brussels”

      Oh really? That seems like a very patronising remark about the Greek people who chose at the last election to vote for a pro EU government.

      The following extract from the World Bank on Global Economy will explain the reason why:

      In the “Doing Business” category Greece came 61st, just behind Tunisia

      For “Reliability” it came 155th, just behind Malawi

      For “Tax Collecting” it was behind the Solomon Islands

      But in other criteria it compared favourably to Tongo and Marocco
      ==

      The Greeks knew something had to change and it seems to have paid off as their economy is finally showing some improvements.

      So I’m sure that few people voted Brexit out of sympathy for the Greek people.

      • Edward2
        Posted March 31, 2019 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        Greece has been plunged into real austerity by the unelected Commission.
        I thought you might have a little sympathy for their hardship.
        But apparently not.

  30. ukretired123
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    Marvellous, simple, straight-talking, clear-thinking listing an MP’s ideal priorities honed over many years thank you very much Sir John.

    After listening to many confused lightweight superficial commentators it is refreshing to know just how basic yet profound this WA really is draft by Yanis Varoufakis as akin to a War Surrender document – and yet the full legal advice is indeterminate.

    Any variation of WA will not “pass mustard” and any MP voting for it will be playing Blind Man’s Bluff.

  31. Robin Brooke-Smith
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Sir John. Clear, succinct, well argued and with the ring of truth. The WA is a treacherous betrayal. How dreadful that a conservative PM should use entrapment and blackmail to bludgeon MPs into submission and surrender.

  32. Ian Pennell
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Dear Sir John Redwood,

    You Sir are indeed a very good MP -sticking to principles and not changing them because of political expediancy. There are too few MPs who are like this!

    The fact remains that, given Theresa May’s BRINO Deal has been voted down a third time, the Remainer Majority is sure to mobilise to stop a “No Deal” Brexit on 12th April. Parliament will not only have their Indicative Votes on Monday and other such votes on Wednesday (the even worse “Customs Union” BRINO will win), but it is likely that Parliament will succeed in passing legislation to make a WTO “No Deal” Brexit illegal.

    There is also the chance of Theresa May getting her Deal voted on a fourth time; should this pass Brexit is delayed to 22nd May. On the plus side, if Theresa May’s BRINO goes through Parliament wont not conspire to push through the even worse “Customs Union” BRINO. I do trust you to stand firm and not vote for Theresa May’s BRINO to stop the even worse “Customs Union” BRINO from happening: Principles matter.

    Both forms of non- Brexit would be disastrous for Britain and it would be hard for Britain to legally extricate itself from either the Backstop or from a full blown Customs Union. That is precisely why you and Tory colleagues MUST move Heaven and Earth to prevent either outcome from becoming true- by getting Theresa May deposed and putting in place a Brexit Leader as Prime Minister- AND FAST!.

    Such a Brexit Prime Minister would have Parliament Prorogued ASAP (so that a WTO “No Deal” Brexit happens). If it is NOT possible to push Theresa May out (and to stop David Lidington) you must all be prepared to collapse the Government in a No Confidence Vote then (via a show of hands) install a Brexit Leader. The subsequent General Election- fought on a pro-growth, True Brexit platform will restore a Conservative Brexit- supporting Majority Parliament that would take Britain out of the EU.

    I know collapsing the Government entails some risk, but letting Brexit get destroyed on the watch of a Conservative Government will lead to a far worse outcome- both for Brexit and the career prospects of Conservative MPs in future. Major surgery for cancer involves risk, but not operating means the cancer patient will die. You owe it to 17.4 million “Leave” Voters to make the right call and act now.

    Ian Pennell

  33. ferdinand
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting to hear that you have spoken – face to face ? – with the Prime Minister along these lines. May we know what her immediate reaction was ?

    Reply The same ss her public statements. She is fixated on the dreadful Withdrawal Agreement

  34. javelin
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    I am not surprised that Labour has taken the lead over the Conservatives.

    As you know I have been carefully monitoring and reporting on the sentiment on news and social media comments every week for years.

    The Conservatives would face a sheer wall of criticism on the internet from their OWN supporters. It would be impossible to out wit or out shout the internet. People just read the headlines and go straight to the comments. I think Labour could just sit back and say nothing negative and win.

    Elections are very easy to predict by using comments as a barometer. The only thing that surprises me is that people think news and social media comments are just people who shout loudest rather than a good leading edge indicator.

  35. Chris S
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    Yesterday afternoon I asked if our kind host could explain how his group of hardline Brexiteers now plan to deliver Brexit at all, considering the large majority of MPs in favour of Remain who are spending this weekend busy plotting against us.

    I have huge respect for Mr Redwood but on this occasion I think he made a misjudgement. It is a pity no explanation was forthcoming this morning.

    We now face a week in which Remainers will almost certainly get their act together and will come up with a BINO solution tied to a second “confirmatory” referendum. In truth this would be nothing of the kind, because Remain would be the alternative on the ballot paper.

    If Remainers can vote through this kind of arrangement it seems likely that the EU would jump at it because it achieves everything they might want : They love having second votes over issues that don’t suit them and the “leave” alternative on the ballot paper certainly won’t be leaving at all by the time they’ve finished “negotiating” it.

    At least with May’s flawed deal signed we would be OUT and a new Brexiteer-led government could then try and gets out of the dreadful mess May and Robbins have got us into.

    I see Grieve lost his confidence vote, and rightly so. Had I still been a resident of Beaconsfield I would have been there playing a leading role in the efforts to unseat him.
    Before Beaconsfield I lived in Maidenhead so ditto.
    Now my MP is Christopher Chope so I will be asking him today the same question as I put to our host.

    • An idea...
      Posted March 31, 2019 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      Revelation 17:4 million

      We need a comprehensive FTA that does not trap us in the EU institutions and we need to roll back everything TM has recently done.

  36. Gareth Warren
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    A good speech. What many brexiteers may underestimate how badly this WA would affect the party in the years to come. It is so bad that I would not be surprised if brexit itself was overturned in years to come.

    I can only guess at the prime ministers motivations to pursue this, this policy would be ruinous for re-election. Better we force the hand of remainers to act un-democratically with all the long term negative consequences then accept this unholy mess of a WA.

    Thank you for keeping brexit alive.

  37. Edwardm
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    The more that is revealed about the WA the more worrying it is.
    How any UK representative can agree to it I don’t know.

  38. Stephanie Neal
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    A good speech. Let’s hope your colleagues will take note, even if they voted for it today, if it is produced again for a vote, hopefully they will remember what you said.

  39. 'None of the above'.
    Posted March 30, 2019 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
    This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
    This other Eden, demi-paradise,
    This fortress built by Nature for herself
    Against infection and the hand of war,
    This happy breed of men, this little world,
    This precious stone set in the silver sea,
    Which serves it in the office of a wall
    Or as a moat defensive to a house,
    Against the envy of less happier lands,
    This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

  40. Mike Wilson
    Posted March 31, 2019 at 1:32 am | Permalink

    A definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result

    I read May is going to try to get her Surrender Deal through for the fourth time. Seriously, this is getting embarrassing.

    Can we stop this now, please.

    MPs get to vote 4 times on the Surrender Deal but we can’t have a second referendum! What an abject farce this is.

    • An idea...
      Posted March 31, 2019 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      I read May is going to try to get her Surrender Deal through for the fourth time. Seriously, this is getting embarrassing.

      Can we stop this now, please.

      >
      Yes, it seems May is some autobot who is following a script and as it is not going to plan she is now malfunctioning.

      • Not Bob
        Posted March 31, 2019 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        Have MPs considered the possiblity Mrs May is in some sort of hypnotic trance? Could she have been hypnotised by EU leaders in the early hours of the morning? Only I am not sure what else would explain her behaviour?

  41. Bob Dixon
    Posted March 31, 2019 at 4:24 am | Permalink

    The Withdrawl Agreement is dead. We need to start again. On April the 12th we need to leave without a deal. If the Prime Minister cannot or will not do this then we need to find a new Prime Minister who will take us out.

  42. An idea...
    Posted March 31, 2019 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Keep voting it down everyone, all this is happening in the full spot light of the entire population so you have nothing to fear from May and her lot, the nation is with you. Feel our moral force behind you!

  43. David Webb
    Posted March 31, 2019 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    It’s hard to understand why other Conservative MPs don’t see things with the same clarity as Sir John.

    There were perfectly good arguments in 2016 for Remain. However there aren’t many good arguments for the sort of rubbish Parliament keeps voting on.

    Parliament’s aim … inasmuch as it seems to have one … seems to be ‘Out of Europe, but Run by Europe ‘. What a shower!

    Keep up the good work, Sir John.

  44. Anthony
    Posted March 31, 2019 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    The withdrawal agreement is bad and I agree with you on this.

    But no deal is off the table and the EU will fold on the delay. We’ll be in the EU till 2020, 4 years after the referendum. The people vote crowd will, justifiably, day that we hold general elections after this length of time. It may be their fault we haven’t left, but another vote would look increasingly legitimate.

    Meanwhile, why are concerned about signing up to a customs union in the political declaration? If we could see our way to passing the WA, then just pass the PD as well, and once we’re out say we want a different end state. The EU doesn’t want the backstop as the end state so they would have to respond. If the commons is unhelpful about it, then just don’t negotiate the trade deal until we’re ready for a GE and change the numbers in the commons.

  45. javelin
    Posted March 31, 2019 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    As the vote to “Revoke Article 50 to avoid No Deal” was defeated then “MPs have now indicated to the Government that they are willing to accept No Deal in preference to revoking Article 50.”

  46. PaulDirac
    Posted March 31, 2019 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Sir Redwood,
    Thank you for your logical and firm stand. I am probably too naive to understand why the seemingly rock-sold JRM, Boris and the rest changed their minds, can anyone here explain?

    • rose
      Posted March 31, 2019 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

      For the same reason Philip Davies, Esther McVey, and David Davies did. They say the game is up now the PM is colluding with Parliament to kill Brexit. Nonetheless, they should all stick with Sir John whose judgement is the best.

  47. mary
    Posted March 31, 2019 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    I am beyond disgusted by some mainstream media who tell the colossal lie that the appalling Suicide Treaty aka Withdrawal Agreement is Brexit. And (Sky news) that Brexiteer protesters in Westminster last Friday 29 March were DISAPPOINTED that the Withdrawal Agreement was not voted through !!!!!!!!! What lies !!!!! All who vote for the appalling treaty are vile traitors, but they are even more evil than that: if it ever does get voted through God forbid, and when very very bad things start crawling out of the woodwork, the establishment and media are working to shift the blame on to brexiteers !!!!!!!!! Despicable. Well many of the public are not fooled by these lies; as for those who are fooled, I have a loud mouth and I go around setting the record straight ! We will never never forgive them, ever.

  48. Simon Coleman
    Posted March 31, 2019 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    If a majority of your constituents in Wokingham wanted the return of the death penalty, would you feel bound to argue for that in Parliament? I think we need some clarity from MPs about what their role is in respect of their constituents’ views. And as for party manifestos, are you saying that you’ve supported every manifesto commitment made by your party since you’ve been an MP? It’s quite obvious that MPs usually pick and choose what they support – so why should it be any different for Brexit?

    Reply Yes I have supported Manifesto items unless I made clear in the election I disagreed with them

  49. mac
    Posted April 2, 2019 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Sir John,

    As an American bemusedly watching this spectacle from Singapore, I must say that I have been absolutely appalled by the behavior of the Parliament over this matter. I don’t know if there has been this kind of disorder since Cromwell.

    It appears to me that Britain has a Remainer Parliament led by a Remainer PM who falsely claimed to be a Leave supporter in order to take David Cameron’s place in No. 10. I think Mrs. May would have sold her soul to become PM; as it stands, she has only had to sell her country out. That Britain should have such a dishonest individual as May leading the most important negotiations Britain has conducted in more than half a century is incredibly unfortunate. That said, if her skullduggery and ineptitude is the price karma inflicts on Britain now for her blessings in providing Churchill in World War II, you still leave the Casino of Fate a winner.

    I note one more item that has not been referred to in this article and its comments. Britain is incredibly lucky right now in that the U.S. President, Donald Trump, likes and admires Britain. On his first day as President, he requested that the British Embassy be so kind as to return the bust of Winston Churchill that his ill-bred predecessor had sent back.

    If Britons manage to find sufficient strength to extricate themselves from the dirigiste clutches of the EU, you will find willing trade partners in the United States who have already stated their desire for a free trade agreement with you. I most sincerely hope you succeed in escaping your European bonds, and I hope you do it soon, for your sake. Donald Trump won’t always be President, and there is no guarantee his successor will be as kindly disposed toward the United Kingdom as he is.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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