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South Suffolk MP explains opposition to holding second referendum on Brexit

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge in Hadleigh. (5142515)
South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge in Hadleigh. (5142515)

The MP for South Suffolk has voiced his opposition to a second referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, stating such an option is “not a policy, but the deferment of one”.

James Cartlidge argued the country should not give up on negotiating a new settlement and that, rather than remain or leave, a reformed relationship with the EU would be the most popular option, in response to the growing support for the People’s Vote movement.

Mr Cartlidge supported the remain campaign during the first referendum in 2016, although the south Suffolk electorate ultimately voted to leave, with 54.1 per cent in favour of leaving.

But last week, after receiving a large number of messages online urging him to back a second poll, the MP said he believed the “semi-detached deal” that Britain is expected to reach would be a good outcome.

“This may point towards a softer Brexit, but, let’s be clear, a hard Brexit is not hard in the sense of Muhammad Ali or Bruce Lee,” he said. “It’s hard as in difficult, challenging, not easy.

“A soft Brexit is not a wimp’s option, but one that is less painful, like a soft landing as opposed to a hard landing.

“The kind of fudge we hear from both hard Brexiteers and those supporting a second referendum pleases no-one.

“But it is impossible to square the total dichotomy of views that exist in our divided country.

“A second referendum campaign would re-ignite and reboot all those divisions to an even more debilitating degree.

“A second vote would not bridge this gulf. It would be an incendiary accelerant of all its nastiest trolling, vitriolic manifestations.

“Instead, we should search for compromise and consensus to secure that semi-detached deal that I believe will, in the long-term, secure our prosperity.”

Mr Cartlidge explained he had campaigned unambiguously for the UK to stay in the EU, but the country made up its mind with a high voter turnout, so he felt to ask for a second referendum would “completely disrespect” this outcome.

He added that, given recent electoral unpredictability, there is no guarantee such a poll would not result in a vote for the hardest possible Brexit.

“My conclusion is that, if people want the UK to ignore the referendum we have held, with all the upheaval just one such vote has entailed, they need to be more explicit and explain why we should in fact remain in the EU,” he said.

“Whereas, remembering that politics requires policy, not just the passing of bucks all the time, I sincerely believe that, if we obtain a deep and comprehensive trade deal with the EU, we will not look back in 10 years time and say, ‘if only we were back in the EU’.”


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