Prosperity, not austerity, is what we need. I campaigned for that in the General Election just over a year ago, promising to work for all my constituents, and to put more and better paid jobs at the heart of what I did for our area. I also stressed the need to help provide more affordable housing for sale and rent. I promised to support Conservative plans to bring down taxes on income and to rule out increases to VAT.
Some of you are now concerned about the consequences of the recent EU referendum vote. The vote was an important exercise in direct democracy. It supplanted our normal representative democracy, where I as your MP weigh carefully all local opinions before making a judgement about how to vote in Parliament on your behalf. On this occasion you all had the same one individual vote as I had. Everyone had the opportunity to speak out, write and appear on platforms to advance the side of the argument they believed in. Many of the debates I joined had lead speakers on both sides from business or the law or recently retired civil servants or university lectures and professors , making it an inclusive debate. It was not a debate led by MPs only. As an individual I could only speak and vote for one side. My long study of the UK’s involvement with the EU persuaded me that we can do more to promote our prosperity and freedom from outside the formal structures of the EU.
I would like to reassure those who disagree with me on the referendum issue. We now revert to representative democracy. As your MP I will continue to represent you all when you have issues and problems that need taking up, and I will ensure your views are heard. We are not leaving Europe, just the EU. I want us to have many strong and good links with our neighbours, based on trade, mutual investment, tourism and travel, academic joint working, student exchanges, joint cultural events and all the other things that draw on our shared heritage and long history of collaborative working across the Channel.
I well understand the worries some Remain voters have, as I heard them well put throughout the referendum campaign. I will work tirelessly to ensure as smooth a transition as possible. I want to see generous research budgets and strong joint working between UK and EU universities. I wish to see us maintain good access to the markets of the rest of the EU. I wish to reassure all who have come to the UK from the continent to work and reside that they are very welcome here and no-one wants to change their rights to be here. Leaving the EU does not mean an end to all migration. The UK will still be welcoming to the many highly qualified people who want to come, to the investors and students who wish to work with us, and to some family members of people already legally settled here. The difference will be that the UK public and Parliament will debate and the UK government propose the rules and the numbers governing future admissions.
It is going to take time to sort out the various matters that need change. It will take time for all of us to adjust to the new mood and landscape the popular vote has created. Parliament will not wish to thwart the will of the national majority, but it will wish to supervise changes to current arrangements to seek ones which are practical and sensible. I suspect the economic and business impact will be less than many feared, as both sides should have every interest in continuing successful and flourishing trade and investment programmes.
I did feel as your MP that I had to stress recently that I will not vote for any budget which cuts public spending or increases taxes in the way the Chancellor was suggesting for the post Brexit world. I take my election promises to vote for lower income taxes and no VAT increases seriously. I also strongly believe that as the UK and the other advanced economies are only growing slowly, we need to reduce taxes a bit more and spend more on national priorities like the NHS and housing, not less. I will continue to be a voice and to exercise my Parliamentary vote for prosperity not austerity.