Telegraph - Liam Fox: A second Brexit referendum? The one thing that will not be on offer is the status quo
The Prime Minister's decision to postpone the meaningful vote on Britain’s exit from the EU was a sensible and pragmatic move. It has been clear for some time that many Members of Parliament, myself included, share some reservations about the Withdrawal Agreement, especially the “Irish backstop”.
If the PM is able to secure concessions on the backstop, I believe that this Withdrawal Agreement is the only one that can achieve a majority in the House of Commons, and enable the House to deliver on its promise to the voters of the UK to respect the outcome of the referendum.
When MPs voted overwhelmingly to hold the referendum, Parliament in effect said: we cannot or will not make a decision on this particular matter. It is too important, too momentous, to be decided by just 650 individuals. We want the people to take this decision and issue an instruction to Parliament.
If we want to retain the public’s faith in our democratic institutions and procedures, it is time for Parliament to live up to its side of the bargain. Failure to do so would be a democratic betrayal with Parliament deliberately putting itself at odds with the electorate.
There are also those who refuse to accept the referendum result and are trying to keep Britain in the EU by asking them to vote again to give them the “right” result. Even if every member of the House were to vote for it – by the time the necessary legislation had been passed, the question determined, and the vote organised, we would be well beyond March 29 2019. Britain would already be out of the European Union.
Article 50 could, of course, be extended. But that could only be done by a minister of the Crown – a member of a government that is committed to delivering our promised withdrawal from the EU. For those who want another referendum, let us be very clear: the one thing that will not be on offer in any further referendum, just as it was not in the last one, is the status quo, inside the European Union.
The EU is committed, as it has been since the treaty of Rome, to ever closer union. We wish our European friends well in that endeavour, but it is not the right course for Britain.
Labour’s plan, of course, is to force another general election, or even to use the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act to assume office without another vote, cobbling together support from wherever they can … this would solve nothing. Labour have no plan. Their stated positions, once the mass of conflicting statements has been unravelled, are at best naive.
All that we have heard from those on the Labour front bench is ill-researched, ill-understood, unrealistic and unworkable rhetoric.
The Conservative Party has two tasks: to deliver Brexit and continue to govern our country by staying in office. The failure to do both of these things would be disastrous for our party and our country.