The day of the EU referendum result I set out clearly my position on Brexit. While I voted Remain and was deeply disappointed by the result, the outcome of the referendum was clear. The UK voted for Brexit, and it would be unthinkable to try and override this democratic free vote. I said I was confident that with strong and stable government we could rise to the challenge and my position is unchanged.
We don’t rerun General Elections or Referenda in this country no matter how we feel about the outcome, and in my opinion to try and do so would be democratic poison. That is I voted to trigger Article 50 to start the process of withdrawing from the EU, however this does not mean that I am not representing my constituents but rather I must now do so more rigorously than ever as we begin negotiations and secure trade agreements.
I intend to play my full part as Parliament helps to secure the best possible deal for the UK, and I will be working to protect local jobs and support economic growth and of course ensuring that the rights of EU nationals living in the UK are properly protected in the upcoming negotiations once Article 50 is invoked.
I am also clear that we must work to protect our life sciences industry, Oxfordshire boasts a world leading science and innovation sector and we cannot afford to let our science superpower status slide. A particularly important aspect of this is our membership of the European Atomic Energy Community, or Euratom, which enables the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy to host the JET project- Europe’s largest nuclear fusion device. The nuclear research underway at Culham is truly ground-breaking, many of my constituents are employed there and Euratom provides 60% of its funding.
The UK’s membership of Euratom and the EU are ‘uniquely legally joined’ and as such we must withdraw from Euratom as we exit the EU. I was furious to find out from the publication of the Bill put before Parliament rather than from Ministers that this was legally necessary, but I am not going to help by being outraged. I will help by representing my constituents employed at Culham, and so I personally spoke to the Brexit Minister and the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rt Hon Greg Clark MP. Going forward we must ensure that the physicists and scientists at JET are properly informed and consulted about the future of Euratom throughout discussions.
I am working to ensure that we protect the vital research projects that our membership of Euratom provides and that we are able to retain the specialist skills we currently attract due to our world class science and research base.
I have written formally to the Brexit Minister to request a meeting with myself and those employed at Culham, and I am making representations to the Treasury regarding securing the funding for the JET project to 2020 so that we can be sure that not only are jobs protected but so too is the future of the energy security of our nation.
Parliament has voted to enable the Prime Minister to invoke Article 50 and now, as negotiations get underway to leave the EU and to form agreements with other countries, I will be working hard to protect local jobs and prosperity in our area as I always have done. In order to deliver the desired outcome, in the local and national interest, we will need to have a full and proper discussion with the EU on every aspect of membership.
Ultimately, my view is that the outcome of the referendum has to be respected and I hope I’ve made it clear that I will be working tirelessly to secure a good deal for Oxfordshire.