Guto Bebb MP: Welsh and Scottish Conservatives face electoral oblivion in the pursuit of No Deal
Hill farmers, the bed rock of Conservative support in seats like Aberconwy, face calamity but are seemingly to be regarded as unavoidable collateral damage, says Guto Bebb MP.
I will be voting this week to do everything I can to block a No Deal Brexit.
I will do so knowing that my party’s leader and, sadly, more than a few of its members, will regard me as a traitor to the Conservative Party. But I reject that, absolutely, and I know when I do vote against No Deal, I will be far truer to Conservative tradition than anyone who traipses through the lobbies out of fear, opportunism or simply unthinking loyalty.
To be a Conservative, at root, is surely to prefer liberty, free markets and democratic government to any ideological fad and to resist any attempt to make us servants of the state or disciples of a great leader. These are the mistakes socialists should, and frequently do, make and it is distressing to many of us to see Tories fall into this trap.
So, while I always regret having to vote against the party’s whip, I do so with a clear conscience.
The proponents of No Deal love to characterise their opponents as representatives of a metropolitan elite, but surely, in the Conservative party at least, the true elitists are the No Dealers. They are consciously willing to see Welsh and Scottish Conservatives, particularly those in rural seats, face electoral oblivion in their pursuit of No Deal. Hill farmers, the bed rock of Conservative support in seats like mine, face calamity but are seemingly to be regarded as unavoidable collateral damage.
Nor do the No Dealers care much for the jobs of those working in industries like steel, chemicals or food – none of which are likely to be found in their London or Surrey constituencies – but all of which face horrific consequences if we crash out with no agreement.
The Government’s claim is, that by ruling out No Deal, Parliament risks damaging the negotiating stance of the United Kingdom. This I find the most reprehensible assertion of all, because in making it ministers are quite explicitly using the threat of economic self-mutilation. It’s like threatening your neighbours with a scorched lawn if you burn your house down.
No reasonable or responsible Government should be allowed to get away with advocating a course of action they know will harm the people of the country and it is an absolute outrage that ministers feel they can do so with impunity.
The latest Government threat appears to be that they will not just seek to expel those of us who stand up to their bullying but even that they will call a General Election if they lose. This would be the greatest political folly of all because it risks putting Jeremy Corbyn in office, not as a temporary PM, but for five whole years.
For if the thinking is that Nigel Farage will stand aside for the Conservatives that will surely end in nothing but disappointment. Boris Johnson may love to be at the centre of media attention but he’s a rank amateur in those stakes compared to the Brexit Party leader.
Guto Bebb is Conservative MP for Aberconwy.