Caroline Flint

Standing up for Don Valley.

The EU Referendum

A number of constituents emailed me about the EU referendum result, many asking for a second referendum to be held.  Here is my view:

The EU referendum was one of the most important decisions ever taken in this country.  I campaigned for Remain, but like all MPs, I have to accept and honour the result.

On a huge turnout after an intense debate, the public have spoken.  Britain will leave the European Union.

Let me mention a number of points that have been raised in the aftermath of the referendum.

First, Parliament will honour the result.  The new Prime Minister has also confirmed that.  At some point, the Government will hand in formal notice to quit to the EU, under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. This will probably be in the autumn of this year or early 2017.

The delay is because no UK Government has ever done such large and complex negotiations before and will, therefore, bring together teams of experts and officials to help them.  Leaving the EU has a knock on effect on our membership of lots of other organisations, such as the World Trade Organisation, so there is much to sort out.

The vote has caused the pound to slump and some economic instability.  The Government and the Bank of England must attend to that first.   

To initiate the divorce, the UK serves notice to quit under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.  A two year process begins.  Anything not agreed within the two years, falls away.  Also, David Cameron's deal with the EU on a number of issues, including limiting migrants' rights to claim benefits, is torn up after the UK's vote to Leave.

Theresa May will probably seek a mandate from the British people for the Government's approach to negotiations, which makes an October 2016  or Spring 2017 general election very likely.  Whatever the outcome of that election, I want Labour to have a place at the negotiating table.

For those who hope there will be a second EU referendum, I do not see another on the membership issue as a possibility.  All parties accept the result.  However, once an agreement is reached with the EU on our future arrangements outside of the EU, there may be a referendum to endorse it.

This campaign divided the country. Some of the things said were simply wrong. Others were alarmist.  For example, we never did pay £350million a week to the EU.  It was simply not true. Nor did George Osborne have to hold an emergency budget if we voted Leave. 

But the most shameful aspect of the campaigns was the scare stories from Leave about Turkey and immigration.  Turkey will not join the EU for many years, if ever. Some of the messages from the Leave campaign heightened fears and also offered the false hope that the UK could end immigration. In the days after the vote, the Leave campaigners have suddenly begun to admit this, which has caused anger among some who voted Remain and will have disappointed some who voted Leave to halt immigration.

Leaving the EU will be a long process, and there will be difficulties along the way and after we leave.  As your MP, I want the Government to help to minimise the adverse effects on people in Doncaster.  I also want to protect the important funding that goes to communities and to local farmers.

I have sought the views of constituents about their priorities.  My Big Questions Survey can be found at http://www.carolineflint.org/the_big_questions_survey

This decision has been a cause for celebration for some and bitter disappointment for others. I hope the nation can heal these divisions in time.

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