Since the start of the General Election campaign, I and the Ipswich Conservatives have knocked on over 10,000 doors and we’ve been able to talk to over 3,000 people from across the town. We have a huge amount of door knocking still to do, but I’d like to think we have a fairly good idea of what people are thinking on some of the key issues.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest issue for a lot of people is Brexit and the inability of the last Parliament to deliver it. Of course, there are a range of different views that have been expressed and I would be lying if I said there weren’t a view people I’ve come across who’ve said that they want a second referendum or for Brexit to be cancelled before Christmas. However, the simple fact is that the overwhelming majority of the people to whom I’ve spoken – whether or not they voted Leave or Remain – simply want Brexit to be delivered so that the country can move on. They do not want 2020 to be dominated by endless Brexit debate and indecision like this year has been. They want a resolution and they want one that involves respecting the referendum result that took place over three years ago.
I think it’s for this reason that the “Let’s Get Brexit Done” slogan is resonating with so many people. I know slogans can often feel repetitive, but they are necessary because they are able to successfully communicate a fundamental purpose. And of course, the key “purpose” of this General Election must be to produce a new Parliament that will be capable of breaking the Brexit deadlock. If we’re unable to break the Brexit deadlock, then we are unable to move forward as a country.
Naturally this slogan appeals to those who voted to Leave the EU and want Brexit to be delivered as soon as possible and for their vote respected. However, it also appeals to two groups of Remain voters. The first group are the Remain voters who immediately accepted the referendum result after it took place because they believed that a democratic process had taken place and whether or not they agreed with the outcome believed that the result must be upheld.
However, there is a second group of Remain voters who are warming to the “Get Brexit Done” slogan and I would argue that they are growing in number. The majority of them felt strongly about Brexit and that we should Remain in the EU. Many of these Remain voters may have struggled to accept the result which for many came as a huge surprise. However, I would argue that the majority of such voters now want Brexit to be delivered and the situation resolved as they can see the damage the Brexit logjam is having for the country and our ability to grapple with other more pressing issues.
It seems to me, knocking on thousands of doors in Ipswich, that there is a growing coalition of voters who want to “Get Brexit Done”- however they voted in the referendum.
I believe this is also why so many find the Labour Party’s position on the issue so unappealing. The only thing we know for sure about Jeremy Corbyn’s position on Brexit is that it would ensure that we spend the next year endlessly debating it and resolving nothing. The local Labour MP here who was repeatedly voted to block Brexit in Parliament – despite 58% of people in the town voting to Leave – bizarrely claims that a second referendum would help “bring people together”. My strong view is that a second referendum would have precisely the opposite effect of “bringing people together”.
What gives me encouragement is that when talking on the doorstep to people who want to “Get Brexit Done” is that it’s often only towards the end of the conversation where I find out how they actually voted themselves in the referendum. This is how it should be and gives me hope that once Brexit is delivered we can bring the country back together, taking the view that regardless of whether we were “Leavers” or “Remainers”, we are democrats.
So what I say to the Labour Party is that yes, I also want to bring the country together – but the only way we have any hope of doing that is to respect the referendum result and deliver Brexit. It’s only by doing so that we provide the platform to bring people together.
It’s only by voting Conservative that we can ensure that Brexit doesn’t dominate 2020 like it did 2019. Passing the Brexit deal doesn’t end negotiations with the EU. However, it’s a major step forward and one that provides certainty regarding the referendum result being respected. If this doesn’t take some heat out of our politics, then I don’t know what will.