Open Letter to Jeremy Hunt on Brexit and the national interest
Text of a letter sent to Jeremy Hunt on 2018-12-03 calling for him to vote against Brexit, in the national interest.
FAO: Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP CC: The Farnham Herald
As an MP, you are bound by the MPs’ Code of Conduct. Section III.6 says “Members have a general duty to act in the interests of the nation as a whole; and a special duty to their constituents.”
We have now seen the detail of the EU Withdrawal Agreement, and the general form of our future relationship as laid out in the Political Declaration (even if it is still frustratingly vague). The government’s own analysis of these documents shows that every possible Brexit scenario leaves the UK worse off economically than if we stayed in the EU. The small opportunities for new global trade are dwarfed by the loss of trade within the EU. To damage the economy in this way is against the national interest.
It is also clear that during the implementation period and beyond, we will need to abide by EU rules while at the same time losing our influence over them. We have had a productive and influential seat at the EU’s table, with 95% of EU laws being passed with the active consent of UK MEPs, and only 2% against. To sacrifice our political influence in this way is against the national interest.
Withdrawing from the EU removes the cooperative environment in which much of our scientific and engineering innovation flourishes. The highest profile example of this is the Galileo satellite navigation system, where as members we contributed to a collaborative project which shared costs and expertise for the benefit of all EU members. Many hundreds of other projects face similar fates. To damage scientific cooperation in this way is against the national interest.
By isolating ourselves, we make our political position weaker. With an increasingly belligerent Russia and an isolationist US, there is benefit in remaining part of a larger political union. Withdrawing to “go it alone” on the world stage weakens us both from a military and political standpoint. To willingly decrease our political clout in uncertain times is against the national interest.
By removing freedom of movement, we undermine the settled status of 3 million productive EU residents in the UK, and remove the freedom of movement from 65 million of our own people. As well as economic damage, the human and cultural cost of this move is enormous. To damage the prospects of our own citizens and the lives of our EU friends, colleagues and neighbours is against the national interest.
During the initial referendum, when the clearest view of our future position was “Brexit means Brexit”, you shook me by the hand and remarked that it was “odd that we are on the same side for a change”. You argued for all these points. Now we have the details of what is probably the best available withdrawal agreement on offer, and more clarity on what Brexit will really be like, it is obvious that the promises for Brexit are simply undeliverable. Proceeding with Brexit is against the national interest.
I therefore call on you, as a direct requirement of the ministerial code, to vote against the government’s withdrawal agreement, and to vote for a referendum on the actual terms of the Brexit deal, with an option to remain.
That’s truly in the national interest.
Sean Ellis (Address redacted)