Sleaford MP Stephen Phillips wants Brexit terms debate

Sleaford and North Hykeham MP Stephen Phillips is a key member of a cross-party alliance pushing for a debate and vote on the UK's exit strategy from the EU.

Stephen Phillips MP EMN-161017-163904001
Stephen Phillips MP EMN-161017-163904001

Mr Phillips spoke in the Commons last Monday calling for a debate on the broad negotiating terms with the European Union and was involved in a further debate on that strategy on Wednesday amids fears of the effects of a ‘hard Brexit’.

Mr Phillips, along with Lib Dem former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and former Labour leader Ed Miliband are among those pressing for a fresh Commons debate on whether there should be a vote prior to Prime Minister Theresa May invoking Article 50 to leave the EU.

She has already agreed to scrutiny of her strategy but ministers prefer not to show their hand before reaching the negotiating table with EU leaders – including whether to stay in the Single Market.

Mr Phillips insisted in the Commons last week: “It is not about reversing the referendum result. It is not about subverting the will of the majority who voted, as I did, to leave the European Union. It is not about trying to secure a second referendum. We had a vote, the country voted as it did and that result must be respected.

“Personally, I had nothing whatever to do with the leave campaign, which was, in my view, conducted in what I regarded as a disgraceful sea of falsehood, spin and propaganda. Like many, however, given that fundamental reform of the EU appeared impossible I exercised my own vote on the sure and simple basis that the people of this country should be able to throw out of office those who make the rules that govern their lives — in other words, I voted on the basis of sovereignty.”

He said the Government does not have a mandate as to the terms of the UK exit from the EU.

Mr Phillips said: “Nearly half of those who voted wanted no substantive change at all in the relationship between this country and the European Union. Their voices, which did not chime with my own, appear entirely to have been forgotten in the rhetoric of hard Brexit that has somehow become received wisdom on the part of the Government.”

He suggested that if the Government does not consult and listen to MPs it was being ‘undemocratic’.

He said: “I did not vote ‘leave’ to see one tyranny that failed to consult this House, in the form of the European Commission, replaced by another in the form of a Government who fail to listen to what this House thinks about their negotiating position.”

Speaker of the House John Bercow responded that there would be many opportunities to debate these matters.