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An Open Letter To Nick Herbert MP

December 2, 2018 10:28 PM

Alison Bennett

Dear Mr Herbert,

I am writing this open letter in my capacity as the newly selected Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for our constituency of Arundel and South Downs. My reason for writing to you now is to ask you to reconsider your decision to support the Prime Minister's proposed EU withdrawal agreement.

You may remember meeting me in June 2016. You came to Hurstpierpoint to support my cross party 'Remain' stall in the days prior to the EU Referendum. I was honoured that you joined us, especially as you were chairing the 'Conservatives In' campaign. You must have been extremely busy fighting for us to stay in the European Union.

Following the Referendum, I decided that ordinary people like me who had never been politically active before, had a duty in these turbulent times to stand up for what they believe in. If we don't, then our country and political society is the worse for it. Two and a half years later, the Conservative Party, hopelessly divided, has failed to provide the leadership that the country needs, and you appear to have changed your belief that Brexit must be opposed. This is why I am preparing to stand against you in the next General Election, whenever it may come.

You must understand why Brexit is bad for the country:

Economically, by taking us out of the Single Market and the Customs Union the proposed deal will make us worse off. The Chancellor Philip Hammond admitted this on 28th November. The only option that is not bad for the economy is the one where there is no Brexit.

Politically, by losing 'our voice, our vote and our veto' (from the ministerial resignation letter of Sam Gyimah MP, 30 November 2018) in the European Union we will weaken our international standing, credibility and influence.

Individually, the celebrated ending of free movement reverses half a century of growing liberty and openness not only for EU citizens, but for us as British citizens too.

With some consternation I read your article for 'Conservative Home' last week. In urging the extremist Brexiteers within your party to support the deal, you described leaving the EU as 'The Prize'. 'The Prize' is an extraordinary phrase for a former Remainer to use. Is this what you believe now?

I am not prepared to stand by and see our nation's wealth, power and freedom diminished in the name of honouring the 'will of the people'. This is not what was voted for in the Referendum.

There are no easy answers here. I understand you must be torn between doing your best to honour the referendum mandate and your duty to minimise economic harm to your constituents. Personally, I have concluded that the best route through this mess is to put the decision back to the People. Now that we can look at the deal on offer and understand what leaving the EU actually means, we are in a position to give our informed consent.

Since 2016 the Liberal Democrats have led the case for a 'People's Vote'. We are now seeing a growing tide from across the political spectrum agree that this is what must happen next. With government ministers from your own party resigning in order to be able to join the calls for a People's Vote, it is clear that you do not have to choose the path that Theresa May is pushing.

I urge you, the elected representative for Arundel and South Downs, to think again and withdraw your support for a deal that will leave your constituents worse off for many years to come.

Yours sincerely,

Alison Bennett