MP for North East Bedfordshire ‘profoundly disappointed’ with EU result but believes second referendum may not be answer

MP for North East Bedfordshire Alistair Burt.

MP for North East Bedfordshire Alistair Burt. - Credit: Archant

The MP for North East Bedfordshire is ‘profoundly disappointed’ with the EU result but believes a second referendum may not be the answer.

The dust is still settling across the UK after last week’s referendum result, which saw 51.9 per cent voting to leave the EU, with 48.1 per cent wanting to remain.

Conservative Alistair Burt had been a vigorous Remain campaigner, but Central Bedfordshire voted for Brexit, a trend reflected across the eastern region as 42 of the 47 council areas voted to leave.

Mr Burt said: “I make no secret of the fact that I am profoundly disappointed with that result, against which I campaigned, and which will have many adverse consequences for us.

“Since the result and implications became clear I have received a number of emails about a second referendum, and I‘m aware of the petition.

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“Sympathetic though I am to such pleas, being on the same side of the argument, I am not yet sure this is the answer.

“It is hard to maintain that people did not know that this was a one off. There was no campaign before June 23 to change the terms of the referendum, to make it a precursor to another, to demand a two third’s majority or anything else.

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“To the seventeen million who voted the other way this would seem like changing the rules after the event.

“This is not a small consideration. In a democracy with rules, and commitments, changing them has consequences.

“The referendum demonstrated a divided country, with strong feelings. Not letting the result stand runs considerable risks of people feeling cheated by the process.

“Not every decision with which people disagree can be fixed by a petition from them demanding a different outcome.

“I understand the desire to remain in the EU. I have spent a lot of my career working with colleagues on the issue home and abroad.

“It is heartbreaking personally and politically. I agree with many of the points and reservations contained in the emails.

“But at this stage it might be best to start making some progress on where we go from here, and extract some detail on the many issues which will need decisions.

“Although there is an instruction to leave the EU, those promoting it appear to have either no idea or confused ideas about exactly what trade relationship there will be, or what the country’s immigration policy should be, for example.

“On these and many other matters, parliament will have to decide, so there will be many opportunities for engagement.

I think we need to let the dust settle. I do both understand and accept the strength of feeling behind the petition and the issue may well not be closed.”

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