The Spectator, June 15, Alexander Stafford MP
The Tories claimed a monumental election victory because of voters in seats like mine, Rother Valley, who placed their faith in our vision for Brexit. An extension to the transition period is unthinkable and would be a betrayal of all those former ‘Red Wall’ voters. We enshrined December 2020 into law for a reason: to communicate our steadfast intent and iron resolve with regards to extricating ourselves from the EU once and for all.
Time and again, I speak to constituents who remind me of the sacrosanctity of this Brexit promise. As a party and a country, we must remember that Brexit is one of the highest priorities for voters in the ‘Red Wall’. This is an opportunity to prove that we know that and that we are politicians of our word. If we break our promise, we risk being complicit in a great betrayal and losing these voters for good. The Government knows this and so has formally informed the European Union that we will not be seeking an extension to the transition period.
But not everyone is convinced. There are calls from some to extend the transition period as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. For me, and for voters across the ‘Red Wall’, a delayed full withdrawal is tantamount to no withdrawal at all. We have already agreed to abide by EU rules, regulations, and judgments for many months after our official exit.
We know from the travails of the last four years that extensions achieve nothing. They just give succour to those who wish Brexit never happened. It is now clear that a small number of hardline Remainers are using the coronavirus crisis to score cheap political points, in the hope that the pandemic will mean Brexit is delayed and diluted.
Some of these people also claim to be speaking on behalf of the people of the ‘Red Wall’ seats in seeking a transition extension. But an extension could not be further from what is wanted or needed in the north. In polling commissioned by the Centre for Brexit Policy for their new report Do Not Delay Brexit: The View from the Red Wall, conducted by Savanta ComRes, voters in the ‘Red Wall’ are opposed to any extension of the transition period, with the majority (51 per cent) believing that the transition period should either remain as it is or even be shortened as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 40 per cent of Conservative voters in the ‘Red Wall’ would be less favourable to the Conservative party should they extend the transition period, which is almost twice the number of those who would look more favourably upon the Government.
Click here to read the piece in full.
Click here to read the report in full.