May’s Brexit Deal: Why are MPs so torn?

by Sam Turvey | 29th November 2018

Another day, another FT Brexit & Beyond Summit (its fourth).

Some key takeaways and thoughts from yesterday’s event:

1. Around 75% of the audience who attended thought Prime Minister May would get her deal through Parliament on 11 December. That was a surprisingly big majority given MPs appear so utterly divided.

2. A vote for May’s deal would help the UK to avoid a potential (further) crash in Sterling, keep the Dover to Calais crossing flowing, which handles 17% of all UK trade, and it would keep planes in the sky as normal. All good news for business and the economy.

So why is there such concern about MPs not voting for May’s solution?

Well, sadly, the FT’s audience were all rather likeminded, London centric “elites”. They do not reflect the wider country’s voting sentiment and there was little conversation about sovereignty – often the core underlying reason why many Leave voters voted that way, and why they still support that view now, even though Brexit makes Britain poorer over the next 15 years whatever way you cut it.

MPs understand this economics vs sovereignty dynamic much better than most national journalists and “elites” having actually spent time in their constituencies talking to the full sweep of everyday voters.

No wonder, therefore, MPs are split. They have a massive choice: do what many of your constituents want (and still want despite the analysis), or do whatever limits the economic damage in the national interest and throw in with the Government.

Prediction time. Despite the headlines, Mrs May will sneak this deal through (first or second time), partly because most MPs – themselves often London centric elites – will be swayed by the national interest argument over many but not all their constituents.

That vote will have consequences for the Conservatives and wider society – and of course it still isn’t “good” for the economy – but perhaps we will be able to put a big chapter in this Brexit saga behind us?

About the Author

Sam Turvey

Sam is a globally-minded communications advisor who specialises in guiding senior leaders through critical situations, such as a transaction or crisis, as well as profile raising and campaigns.

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