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Westminster Blog: Upping the Brexit tempo

Newbury MP Richard Benyon's stance on UK's negotiations

Andy Murrill

Richard Benyon


01635 886625

Westminster Blog: Upping the Brexit tempo

This week in Parliament we get stuck in to the detail of Brexit. The EU (Withdrawal) Bill is a 66-page piece of legislation which does all the technical stuff needed to transpose laws and regulations that currently reside with the EU into UK law.

About a year ago I decided to raise myself from the disappointment I felt at the referendum result to work as hard as I can to respect that result and get the best future outside the EU for my constituents.

In Parliament MPs adopt three approaches. There are a few for whom Brexit is a sort of theocracy and this means either overtly or secretly wishing for no deal and for Britain just to walk away. To me that would be a very bad outcome.

On the other polarity, there are those who so much want the UK to remain that they will use any opportunity to undermine or sabotage the Government’s attempts to achieve an orderly exit. For different reasons this, too, would be wrong and damaging to our democracy.

Then there are the rest of us. Most MPs from across the Labour and Conservative benches, both leave and remain supporters, want the best deal possible.

People who have long campaigned for leave are now talking about a quite lengthy transition period. Ardent remainers like me are finding common ground on securing the best protections for areas currently under EU competence such as the environment.

There will be times when I will challenge the Government and this may see me being accused of undermining ministers. The opposite is the case.

It is my job as an MP to scrutinise legislation and suggest amendments where necessary. That happens in every Bill in every week Parliament sits. But at the end of the day I see it as vital that this Bill gets passed.

Meanwhile, across the Channel, negotiations continue. It is extraordinary how either naive or dim some commentators are.

When the EU negotiators say Britain has not provided position papers or is being too slow, such statements are accepted as the gospel truth by many newspapers and by BBC journalists. 

However, when a UK minister or spokesman says something even mildly in disagreement with the EU negotiating team, it is labelled as unhelpful or crass. There seems to be no understanding about what happens in a negotiation.

As anyone who has negotiated in business or in the EU (I have done both) will realise, negotiations are tough and complex.

Take the so-called divorce bill: the EU wants the UK to pay the maximum amount; the UK wants to pay as little as possible. Each side starts miles apart with tough-sounding rhetoric and, after a while, come closer and then agree.

It is in the EU’s best interests to destabilise the UK position by causing people in the UK to question their Government’s tactics. These are the games we have played in negotiations with the EU down the years.

I hope some in the media are a little less supine in their coverage of our negotiated exit and, in the coming weeks and months, challenge both sides.

This is the start of a long and complex process. I will do my best to keep my constituents informed at every stage.

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Article comments

  • NWNThatcham

    07/09/2017 - 12:12

    "On the other polarity, there are those who so much want the UK to remain that they will use any opportunity to undermine or sabotage the Government’s attempts to achieve an orderly exit. For different reasons this, too, would be wrong and damaging to our democracy." What patronizing, shameful nonsense. No democrat should entertain this diminished understanding of democracy for a single moment. Real life is lived in real time. Circumstances change; reality changes; opinions change. Democracy is the means by which the ministers who make these decisions are subject to constant challenge, and required to provide day by day explanation and justification for the actions they take in our name. This nonsense about speaking out against a calamitous negotiation by the government because it is undemocratic is shameful of our MP.


  • PaulM

    06/09/2017 - 23:11

    It seems Richard thinks we are all dumb and naive enough to accept his excuse for the shambles of a negotiation that May and Davies are involved in - don't blame the reporters Richard that is Trump's approach" ! I too have negotiated many business deals, and sorry but the reporters are reporting what they are seeing - sheer incompetence from our side. Davies rolled over on day one agreeing the timetable - we are stuck with agreeing our only card (the money) before getting to the trade deal. Stupid, stupid, stupid!!


    • NWNThatcham

      07/09/2017 - 12:12

      Theresa May rolled over before Davies. The one card we had was when we choose to issue the A50 letter but instead she was pressured by the right wing backbenchers to commit to a date prior to plan or clear UK position. Now Benyon want's to educate us on the skills of negotiation. Its too late, we've blown it. The soft-Brexit approach weakens our position in Europe and limits us internationally; a hard-Brexit is quite impossible unless you live in a fantasy world of Redwood and chums. The only option that remains to the UK is an about-face, apoligise for the waste of time to all, and request to maintain the status-quo. It's about time that Richard grew up and stopped claiming that to challenge this is undemocratic.


  • NewburyLad

    06/09/2017 - 23:11

    Just how is the "don't vote Benyon" campaign going? Oh yeah, nowhere bwahahahahaha hahahaha


    • GloriousE

      23/09/2017 - 15:03

      What a very petty and no doubt, completely irrelevant individual you are.


  • Justin S

    06/09/2017 - 20:08

    Challenge the government ? I don't think he could challenge Annika .............


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