The challenge of negotiating the UK’s departure from the EU in a manner that leaves both the UK and EU able to continue to do business with one another on good terms is clearly not proving easy for David Davis. However rather than focusing his attention on the work of his team that are currently not doing well, according to this piece in the Independent he has chosen to focus on the MEPs who have voted with other members of the European Parliament on a non binding resolution which states “sufficient progress has not yet been made” and advised the European Commission to delay opening talks on a post-Brexit trade deal. Having removed the party whip from two Conservative MEPs who voted for the resolution he has then turned to the leaders of the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party to demand that Vince Cable and Jeremy Corbyn suspend their MEPs in the same way. Inevitably this is not going to happen and one wonders if this demand shows how out of touch with the role of a negotiator David Davis is. His focus should be on achieving an outcome with Michel Barnier, not trying to persuade other political parties how best to carry out their internal processes. Withdrawing the whip from a Parliamentarian is something that should be done as a last resort – the end result is a Parliament with Independent representatives and Parties without any representatives in the Parliament.
David Davis is not alone in calling for this to happen, the Crawley Conservative Association website carries a statement regarding Henry Smith, their MP which states Henry Smith MP has challenged Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green Party MEPs over their vote last week in the European Parliament to block progress in Britain’s Brexit talks. Last week the European Parliament passed a non-binding motion to hold back talks on the future relationship between the UK and the EU. Henry said;
“However people voted in the referendum, most now want us to get on with making Brexit work. That means negotiating the best deal for families and businesses in Crawley. The Conservatives are doing just that, but local Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green MEPs voted to block progress in the negotiations. They need to explain to people in Crawley why they voted against our interests and to delay talks. It looks like they’re more interested in frustrating Brexit than delivering the decision made by voters in Crawley and across the country, and getting the right deal.”
While David Davis needs to focus on sorting out the negotiation with Michel Barnier perhaps Henry Smith could turn his attention to matters that are binding and currently affect his constituents. The need to stop the Universal Credit helpline being a premium rate number is something that our Parliament could resolve very quickly, it has after all been the policy of the Government Henry supports since 2013. They simply need to demand a change of the Department of Work and Pensions which seems to have ignored its Governments policy. A Parliamentary near neighbour of Henry in Bexhill and Battle, Huw Merriman works for the DWP. Perhaps instead of worrying about one vote that is not binding in the European Parliament which other democrats have taken in an accountable manner, Henry could pop into Huws office and get the premium line suspended and a new free phone helpline established as a matter of great urgency.