Tory MP comes out fighting after being branded a ‘mutineer’ by his own party

    NATIONAL INTEREST Tom Tugendhat wants maximum flexibility in negotiations with the EU

    TONBRIDGE & Malling’s Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat has stood his ground on his opposition to an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill after being criticised by fellow Tories in the Commons.

    The Daily Telegraph put his picture on their front page last week along with 14 other ‘Brexit mutineers’ after the first day of debate about leaving the European Union in Parliament.

    Tory MP Bernard Jenkins said dissenters had laid themselves ‘open to the charge that they do not actually want us to leave the European Union’, while Bill Cash accused them of ‘collaborating’ with Labour.

    The bone of contention is that Theresa May’s Brexit team proposed the amendment for the exact time and date of departure from the union, 11pm March 29, 2019, to be enshrined in law.

    The traditionally Conservative newspaper claimed the ‘disaffected members… held a “stormy” meeting with the whips’.

    Currently serving as chairman of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, the MP has made no attempt to disguise his credentials as a Remainer – though his constituents voted strongly to leave the union.

    ‘Fixing a precise time for our departure will give the EU control over the timetable and allow them to restrict our freedom of manoeuvre’

    However, he makes it clear that the result of the vote should be respected and that Brexit should go ahead as planned. He is concerned that the government – which might be a Labour one under Jeremy Corbyn – should not formulate legislation without consulting Parliament, the so-called ‘Henry VIII clauses’ named after the autocratic 16th-century monarch.

    Mr Tugendhat issued a statement clarifying his position: “I am firmly of the opinion that our national interest is best served by keeping the maximum negotiating flexibility so that we can exploit every opening to see our economy go from strength to strength, here in Tonbridge, Edenbridge and Malling, and the country as a whole.

    “That’s why I am concerned that fixing a precise time for our departure will give the EU control over the timetable and allow them to restrict our freedom of manoeuvre.”

    He added: “We also need to consider the powers we give the government’ to stop it from passing ‘Henry VIII clauses’, which bypass consultation with Parliament.

    “Critics regarded the naming of 11pm March 29, 2019 as the moment of severance as placing an unnecessary and potentially harmful restriction on Britain’s ability to negotiate a deal with Europe, especially to avoid the pitfalls of a ‘hard Brexit’ or failing to strike a deal at all.”

    As our straw poll of leading community stakeholders and local businesses large and small reveals, the approach of Mr Tugendhat has received broad support.

     

    WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT MP’S STANCE:

    It’s a very sensible position…

    We’ve always been very clear that Brexit and choices around it were matters for the British people and we did not and do not take a position on Leave or Remain.

    However, we have a view that leaving with no deal and crashing out on a fixed date would be damaging to our clients, our staff and our business. We are not alone in thinking this.

    As a company, we invest in many sectors and industries in the UK and we fully support Tom Tugendhat’s very sensible position on not curtailing room to negotiate – not least to ensure free trade agreements can be completed.

    The more certainty that can be provided for business and the better the transition plan, the easier it is for them to make investment decisions.

    Pete Horrell

    Managing Director UK, Fidelity International, Hildenborough

     

    Tom is just doing his job…

    I voted to remain, but many of my friends and family voted to leave. Like Tom, I am now
    committed to Brexit because that was the democratic decision.

    However, I would urge caution about fixing an exact date that may result in hurried and ill-advised decisions and which could be detrimental to Britain.

    This is not rebellion, this is doing the job we elected him to do.

    Christine Parker

    Managing Director Abbey Funeral Services Ltd

     

    Secure the best outcome…

    I maintain an excellent professional working relationship with Tom Tugendhat.

    A firm foundation for doing so is that he does not tell me how to run the Borough Council and I do not tell him how to vote in the Commons.

    Tom Tugendhat has made clear that he supports the Government’s position on the principle of leaving the European Union and that he is keen to see Britain secure the best possible outcome in doing so.

    Nicolas Heslop

    Leader, Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council

     

    Well-placed to make judgements…

    I have known Tom since his selection and subsequent election as the member for Tonbridge and have total trust in him. As our representative in Parliament he has my full support in making his judgement on all issues with regard to Brexit.

    Not only is he well placed to do so but moreover I would not interfere in his work anymore than he would wish to try and influence the decisions of his local Association.

    Michael Payne

    Chairman, Tonbridge, Edenbridge & Malling Conservatives

     

    Hell-bent on a hard Brexit…

    Although Tonbridge & Malling campaigned to remain in 2016 we accept the result of the referendum.  However, we do not accept the hard Brexit the Conservatives are currently hell-bent on imposing on this country.

    Mary Arigho

    Labour parliamentary candidate for Tonbridge & Malling

     

    Give Parliament the choice…

    Lib Dems are glad that Tom Tugendhat has had the courage to vote to maintain the power of Parliament rather than allow governments to make decisions. We would like to see him back an option that would allow Parliament a true choice – to remain within the EU – not just to accept a future deal or leave with no deal.

    Frani Hoskins

    Vice-Chairman of Tonbridge & Malling Liberal Democrats

     

    Right to vote on the deal…

    We are pleased to see that our MP has seen sense on this issue but we are disappointed that he still insists that we will leave the EU come what may and irrespective of the huge economic damage it will do to our country.

    Yes, we need to respect the result of the referendum but we also need to bear in mind that this was an extremely narrow and people voted for many different things.

    Once our future relationship with the EU becomes clear through a final deal, people deserve to be given the right to vote on the actual, concrete terms.

    If Tom Tugendhat takes seriously the claim that people voted to ‘take back control’, he should ensure they are able to exercise that control in another vote.

    Howard Porter

    Chair, Tonbridge and Malling Green Party

     

    We will hold him to account…

    Let me be absolutely clear about this: Tonbridge and Malling UKIP, which I represent, are dismayed to learn that our MP has decided to align himself once again with the Remain side of the Brexit debate, and make attempts to frustrate the progress of the government’s EU Withdrawal Bill through Parliament.

    Mr Tugendhat has to realise that he represents a constituency which voted overwhelmingly to leave the European Union, and he said he would respect that result.

    We in UKIP will hold him to account locally, even if nobody else does. I feel it is our duty to do so, and over the next weeks we will be embarking upon the UKIP Out Now campaign.

    Colin Hussey

    Chairman, Tonbridge & Malling UKIP Constituency Association