Wed, 13 Mar 2019
Richard Benyon - Conservative
NEWBURY MP Richard Benyon has expressed his disappointment that Theresa May's amended Brexit deal was defeated last night.
He also ruled out the possibility of a second referendum and said that the majority of his constituents wanted the Government to get on with Brexit.
The Prime Minister's revised deal was defeated by 149 votes.
Mr Benyon, who backed the Prime Minister's deal last night, told Newburytoday: "I'm very disappointed. I supported the deal a few weeks ago and I supported it last night.
"I thought it was an improvement on the deal with the legal text that the Prime Minister had agreed, but some of my Conservative colleagues and in the Labour Party and others chose to vote against it.
"This will probably mean, regardless of what happens, a softer Brexit and we will certainly not leave without a deal, which I think is a very good thing.
"The deal the Prime Minister had negotiated was what to most people who voted leave was Brexit and to most people like me who voted remain but accept that our side lost was a sensible way forward.
"Parliament is a dysfunctional place at the moment. I don't blame people for being frustrated.
"I have got tech companies in Newbury pulling their hair out saying what the hell should they do. I replied that I would not be exposing them to the vagaries of no deal."
Reading West MP Alok Sharma and North West Hampshire MP Kit Malthouse backed the Government. Wokingham MP John Redwood voted against the deal.
MPs will have a free vote today on whether to leave with no deal in place. If that is rejected, a vote on delaying Article 50 will be held tomorrow. Mr Benyon said he would vote against no deal and vote to extend Article 50 tomorrow, if necessary.
Ahead of the crunch votes Mr Benyon said: "I think Parliament, by a fair margin, will reject no deal on March 29. I think tomorrow the Government will seek, and get, a short delay.
"What happens then is anyone's guess."
Mr Benyon has previously backed a deal and been opposed to a no deal Brexit said: "I think no deal would be different from what most people expect but it would still be a very bad situation indeed."
The MP said that some areas of the economy would be mitigated if no deal came to pass but others, such as farming, "that we have not considered or are unprepared for would be damaging indeed".
When asked how long Article 50 should be delayed for, Mr Benyon said it would be a "terrible mistake" to delay longer than the upcoming European elections in May and negotiating with the new commission in November.
He said: "The majority of people in West Berkshire want and expect us to get on with it. That's why I have been constantly voting for a deal, which is a compromise.
"This is a better deal than the one we voted on in January and should have been passed last night."
And when asked whether he thought that a second referendum should be held, Mr Benyon warned proponents that they had to be clear what they were asking for.
He said: "The further you get away from London the more anger there is from the public about a second referendum.
"Those who call for it need to be absolutely clear what they are asking for. It will take many months to chose the question, how much money each side can spend and conduct a campaign, and after all that I suspect it will be 52/48 or something similar... and in some areas a larger vote to leave.
"It would unleash demons of nationalism and extremism the likes of which we have not seen in this country. That's the risk they have to consider.
"What we need is to unite this country, move on from this talk about other things and our potential in the world."