Chloe Westley is the Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance.
Last week it was announced that MPs will all be receiving a pay rise of 2.7 per cent, which means they would now be classified among ‘the richest’ by Labour’s calculations. Naturally, the TaxPayers’ Alliance was first on the scene to criticise IPSA for being woefully out of touch with the public.
Of course, it must be said that there are some brilliant MPs across the political spectrum, who go above and beyond for their constituents. But I would hardly say that the majority have covered themselves in glory over Brexit. In the same week that it was announced that all MPs in Westminster would be receiving a pay rise, both the Labour and Conservative front benches rescinded on their election pledges on Brexit.
Manifesto commitments have been broken on both sides. Jeremy Corbyn knew that the majority of voters wouldn’t accept a second referendum, so he ruled this out resolutely at the 2017 General Election. But now, he is whole-heartedly behind a second referendum. Theresa May knew that the popularity of her party relied very much on the perception that the Conservatives were the party of Brexit, and could be trusted to deliver a hard Brexit. That is why the Conservative manifesto committed to taking Britain out of the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union.
Leave voters are being completely ignored by the majority of Westminster. For every noble defence of democracy in the Commons, there are several other condescending calls for another referendum because “people didn’t know what they were voting for”.
Many of these politicians now calling for a second referendum were elected on the platform of delivering Brexit. For example, Dominic Grieve told his constituents that they should vote for him because he would help the Prime Minister to deliver Brexit. In his election address, Grieve wrote that “As someone who has always advocated a close relationship between the UK and the European Union, I accept the result of the 2016 Referendum.” But now he is leading the charge to stop Brexit, declaring this week that Leave voters had “been thoroughly misled over a long period by a form of propaganda that believes that the EU is evil”.
Sarah Wollaston told one constituent before the election that she “promised to respect the outcome” of the EU referendum. On her website she told constituents before the election that “Theresa May has confirmed that the Government will not seek to be in the Single Market. She has also been clear that no deal is better than a bad deal.” At a local election hustings she said that we “must accept the result” of the EU referendum. Dr Wollaston is now proudly campaigning for a second referendum.
Heidi Allen passionately told her constituents at an election hustings that “we have to respect the result” and also tweeted: “I was a remainer, but the EU ref result is final and cannot be rerun.” Allen now says that we need to “check with the British people” and have a second referendum.
Before the election Amber Rudd told her constituents, who voted by a majority to leave the EU, that only a Conservative government “will deliver the Brexit deal that Britain needs to prosper in the years ahead” and also declared to the nation that she was consistent about “respecting the result of the referendum”. Rudd now claims that there is a “plausible argument” for a second referendum.
In addition to these personal commitments, every Conservative MP ran on a manifesto which committed to taking Britain out of the Single Market and Customs Union, and also backing the Prime Minister’s assertion that No Deal is better than a bad deal. These campaign pledges weren’t hidden in the back of the manifesto, or added as a footnote. They were highlighted again and again by the Prime Minister and central to the national campaign.
As someone who was leafleting for the Conservative Party in 2017, I’m astounded that so many Conservative MPs (and now, I suppose, ‘Independent’ MPs) seem to have forgotten what they promised constituents on the doorstep.
By misleading voters about their intention to respect the result of the EU referendum, these MPs betrayed more than just their constituents. They are part of an anti-Brexit movement which is causing irrevocable damage to trust in British politics.
There are many Brits asking themselves: why should I give a third of my income to people who won’t allow me any say in how that money is spent?
We are moving towards a system of taxation without representation. Voters and taxpayers are told to just shut up and do what they’re told. Citizens are reprimanded by their representatives for committing the thoughtcrime of euroscepticism. How dare taxpayers demand more say over how their money is spent, and how their country is run!
Of course it would not be possible to directly devolve decision making to individuals on all matters of state. But on an issue as fundamental as the governance of the nation, politicians cannot say one thing during an election and another when in office.
I don’t think MPs who say they’ll deliver Brexit to get votes in an election, and then do the complete opposite when elected, should be rewarded with a pay rise.