This article was originally published in the North Wales Weekly News on 10 October 2018.
Parliament returned on Tuesday after the three-week conference recess, to begin a Christmas term that will be crucially important to the Brexit process.
That process has become so convoluted that is is worth stepping back and assessing the present position.
In June, 2016, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Some 17.4 million people voted for Brexit. It was the biggest popular vote for any cause in the history of this country. The Government has an obligation to abide by the instructions of the people.
Next week, the October Council will be held in Brussels. There is much anticipation that there will be a breakthrough in the withdrawal negotiations, which have now been taking place for over 18 months.
Progress in the talks has been impeded by the issue of the so-called ‘Irish backstop’, which is intended to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Parliamentarians will be looking carefully at what is proposed. For my own part, I would be particularly concerned if any arrangement were agreed that would continue to tie Northern Ireland into the EU for regulatory or any other purposes, and thereby cut it off from the rest of the UK. The Prime Minister has already said that such an arrangement would be unacceptable, and I am sure that she will be as good as her word.
There continue to be suggestions that there should be a second referendum on whatever settlement is arrived at. Such suggestions are made, primarily, by those who were disappointed with the outcome of the 2016 vote.
The Government was absolutely clear, prior to the referendum, that the vote would be binding. Indeed, it sent a leaflet to every household in the country, stating: ‘This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide.‘
Nothing would be more detrimental to trust in politics if we were to rerun the referendum simply because some people didn’t like the outcome. That has, of course, happened in the past in some EU countries, but it should never happen in the UK.