No deal, general election, second referendum - Peterborough politicians react after EU Withdrawal Agreement rejected by Parliament

A general election, second referendum or no deal - these were the calls from politicians in Peterborough after the Government was badly defeated on the EU Withdrawal Agreement this evening.

Tuesday, 15th January 2019, 8:11 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 5:11 pm

The Government now has until January 21 to set out a Plan B - expected to involve going back to Brussels to seek further concessions - with the clock ticking on the scheduled date of Brexit in just 73 days’ time on March 29 .

In a statement immediately after her drubbing by 230 votes, Mrs May said: “The House has spoken and this Government will listen.”

She offered cross-party talks with MPs across the House to determine a way forward.

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The Peterborough Telegraph has attempted to contact the city’s two MPs, Fiona Onasanya and Shailesh Vara, prospective Parliamentary candidates for Peterborough, leaders of the council’s groups on Peterborough City Council and Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough James Palmer for their reaction.

All responses are included below, with the article updated when further responses are sent through.

Shailesh Vara - Conservative MP for North West Cambridgeshire

“This is an historic vote. It’s also a decisive vote and a powerful message to Brussels that the deal they have offered to the UK is completely unacceptable.

“There’s much in the agreement that I disagree with, but I recognise in international agreement there needs to be compromise. But Brussels needs to appreciate that the unending backstop does need to be looked at again.

“I very much hope that the size of the vote against the withdrawal agreement will encourage Brussels to open up negotiations even at this late stage so we can reach an agreement which is fair and acceptable to both sides.”

Cllr Shaz Nawaz - leader of the Labour group on Peterborough City Council

Cllr Nawaz said the Prime Minister’s defeat means she has lost the support of a significant proportion of her own party, the House of Commons and the electorate.

He called on her to resign and for a general election to be held.

He said: “Peterborough voted for leaving the EU by a substantial margin. However, I don’t think anyone voted for this chaotic, messy and ill-thought out process of leaving. 

“Tory divisions and clear incompetence over Brexit has put the economy, jobs and future investment at risk, and I don’t think May’s deal provides the assurances we all need that there will be a smooth transition to a clear future. 

“I would recommend that everyone involved think again and have preserving employment, the economy and rights as their focus. We want a close future relationship with the EU based on our values of internationalism, solidarity and equality.”

Cllr John Whitby - UKIP Parliamentary candidate for Peterborough

Cllr Whitby said the UK should now leave the EU under World Trade Organization (WTO) terms.

He said: “The instructions given by the people of Peterborough and of Britain to Mrs May and her Government were clear. Over 60 per cent of Peterborough people and 17.4 million British voters said that they want to leave the European Union.

“They did not vote for a deal, multi-billion payouts, backstops or any other elements of Mrs May’s sell-out deal. They voted to take back control from unelected bureaucrats in Brussels and to return it to the British people.”

Cllr Julie Howell - Green councillor on Peterborough City Council

Cllr Howell said: “It is very clear that Theresa May’s awkward coalition Government has failed to serve the needs of anyone who voted in the EUref. It is time for the prime minister to go and for a People’s Vote to provide clarity on where the country should go next.

“Brexit has collapsed with frustration and disappointment on all sides and a country aghast at the weak leadership of the Conservative government.

“The Government must accept that it has failed to negotiate successfully on behalf of the country. Parliament must act very quickly to prevent the accidental disaster of a completely non-negotiated and unplanned departure from the EU. Article 50 must be revoked as soon as possible.

“The right thing to do now is to hold a People’s Vote to determine whether the country still wishes to leave now that we understand what leaving actually entails.”

Cllr Steve Lane - Werrington First group leader on Peterborough City Lane

Cllr Lane said the prime minister and her “over-promoted and still wet behind the ears cabinet” should resign after delivering an “abysmal performance”.

He also said MPs should not have been able to “thwart the wish of the referendum result”.

He added: “We should leave the European Union on March 29, striding forward, and upward, without any deal, and towards a prosperous future. That would be without an agreement of any kind with the EU, apart from a principle of total respect for the independence each has from the other.”

Beki Sellick - Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Peterborough

The Lib Dem candidate said she was unsurprised by the scale of the government’s Brexit defeat, and that Peterborough residents she had spoken to wanted another referendum.

She added: ”She’s failed to listen to MPs across the parties. As soon as possible, we should have a People’s Vote which includes the option to keep the deal we have by staying in the EU; meanwhile, as senior Tory Ken Clarke suggests, we should revoke Article 50 immediately to give us time, so we can’t be forced into to a disastrous “no deal” by Theresa May’s delaying tactics.”

Paul Bristow - Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Peterborough

“It is our duty to deliver on Peterborough’s and the UK’s instruction to leave the EU. It is good that the PM will come back to the House of Commons on how this can be best delivered. That’s keeping control of our laws, money and borders.

“Politicians on all sides need to listen to the British people who want this issue settled, and to work with the Government to do deliver that.”

Cllr Nick Sandford - Lib Dem group leader on Peterborough City Council

“The historic Brexit vote in Parliament is a massive humiliation for the prime minister and her Government. A People’s Vote is now the only realistic way to settle the matter decisively.

“But locally I am really worried that a no deal Brexit is still a possibility and I want to know what the council and its NHS partners are doing to prepare for it and avoid possible catastrophic consequences for patient care. I have put down a question asking this to Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald, cabinet member for health, at next week’s Full Council meeting.