Chichester Tories urged to back final say over Brexit

A former government minister has asked Conservative councillors in Chichester to support a 'final say' for the public over Brexit.

Dr Phillip Lee MP who is chairman of Right to Vote, a campaign group which claims the ‘only sensible and pragmatic solution is to put the final decision on Brexit back to the people’, wrote to Conservative councillors asking for them to back a final say over Brexit and said 'the potential economic harm no-deal will cause should further focus our minds'.

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Last month, Dr Phillip Lee was invited to meet with the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street to discuss the campaign's calls for a pause in the process and a final say vote.

In the letter to the councillors, Dr Lee, who is also the first minister to resign over Theresa May's handling of Brexit, said: "The services you provide and scrutinise day in day out will seem far more relevant to most people’s lives than the elaborate debates at Westminster, and I fully understand that most voters - however they voted in the referendum three years ago - will be fed-up with the distraction.

“I understand that frustration, and I don’t think a short delay can solve anything. There is clearly no majority for the Prime Minister’s compromise nor for the default no-deal departure which is still a terrifyingly real possibility.

Dr Phillip Lee MP, chairman of campaign group Right to Vote

Dr Phillip Lee MP, chairman of campaign group Right to Vote

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"A long delay of two years or more would also cause anger and uncertainty and might send the whole Brexit project into the long-grass, unresolved.

“This poses a menacing threat to our economy and to local employers such as Rolls-Royce and Wiley. Every day there is more news of companies not committing to the UK or worse, moving their operations abroad.

"In your constituency alone, the UK Trade Policy Observatory, a collaboration between Chatham House and the University of Sussex, has predicted that 1,103 jobs will be lost in Chichester in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The potential economic harm no-deal will cause should further focus our minds.”

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Earlier this month, Right to Vote polled 5,500 voters across 31 constituencies nationwide - and the research found that in Chichester, 54% of voters there who expressed an interest want a final say on Brexit.

Dr Phillip Lee adds in the letter to local Tory councillors: “Right to Vote believes we need to stop the clock with a purpose. Government and Parliament need time to agree a coherent, credible and compelling case for an orderly exit from the EU.

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“With clarity of purpose, sincere intent and collective willpower, I believe MPs could break the deadlock by the autumn, and present it to the people for the final say. This process began with the people and it should end with the people.

“If they vote for a practical and realistic proposal agreed in Parliament that would end this matter for ever. If they choose to reject it, MPs would have to respect their wishes. Either way – we get closure on Brexit by Christmas.”

Right to Vote was formed in January by several high profile MPs in response to what it describes as the Government’s failure to navigate Brexit. Co-founders include Dominic Grieve, Justine Greening, Sam Gyimah and three MPs who resigned from the Conservative Party last month: Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Dr Sarah Wollaston.

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Last month, Dr Phillip Lee was invited to meet with the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street to discuss the campaign's calls for a pause in the process and a final say vote.