James Heappey weekly column

Serving as your Member of Parliament is always an honour but not always straight forward. This week has been one of the hardest of them all. Hundreds of you have written to tell me that you disagree with the Chequers proposal; some saying that Brexit shouldn’t be happening at all and many others saying that Chequers doesn’t allow Brexit to go far enough. At the same time farmers, the local tourism business and some of the most important employers in our county have told me they think it’s a workable solution that addresses the concerns they’d had previously. 

Then in Parliament, there’s the reality of the composition of the House of Commons. Every vote will be on a knife edge because there isn’t a majority for stopping Brexit nor is there a majority for Brexit in its hardest form. Brexit supporting constituents have responded to that by telling me that Parliament is out of touch and failing them. They’ve suggested there should be more referenda but when I’ve offered to support a referendum on the final deal, they’re clear that I should do no such thing.

So Brexit is too hard for some and too soft for others. Major local businesses are keen on Chequers and a sizeable number of residents aren’t. Parliament is not delivering the clarity people want but a referendum on the final deal is widely opposed too. As a nation, we have tied ourselves in a knot from which we don’t seem to be able to escape.

In the Army, when you get pinned down - unable to advance, unable to retreat - it’s the moment when leadership is needed most. It’s the time when commanders look their troops in the eye and say ‘follow me’.

I’ll accept my fate on polling day but for now I’m in Parliament to represent the best interests of all in our community and there’s just no way that we can afford to stand still any longer. So follow me, or don’t, but I’m backing the Chequers proposal because, as imperfect as it is, it really is the best way of getting Brexit done and our country moving forward.