The following is an open letter to Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis from Cllr Bob Perry and a host of other Conservative Party activists (as listed at the bottom)
Dear Mr Lewis,
We, the undersigned, write to you as long-standing, dedicated, voluntary members of the Conservative Party.
We have serious concerns over the direction of the Brexit negotiations and the impact this will have on our party. Specifically, we are deeply worried about the impact of extending Article 50 beyond 29th March 2019 and reports that the Government is seeking a ‘customs arrangement’ with the EU and may reach out to the Labour Party.
The British people spoke to us very clearly on 23rd June 2016 and gave us a mandate to leave the European Union: no customs arrangements, no deals. As has been said many times before, the British people did not vote for a deal, they voted to Leave.
This is extremely troubling as the Prime Minister has committed to leaving the Customs Union and to attempt to tie us to any form of ‘customs arrangement’ would be seen as a shameful sidestep through semantics.
People across Britain have been promised time after time that we will be leaving the EU on 29th March 2019 – almost three years after voting to Leave. Voters have waited long enough for this important day to come and any extension – no matter how short – will be seen as a duplicitous act of betrayal.
Trust in politicians is at an all-time low, and how politicians of all political parties have dealt with Brexit is a major reason for this. You must not underestimate the damage any extension will have on the Conservative Party in future elections. Make no mistake – it will be catastrophic.
This year’s local elections in May are the biggest cycle of local elections and involve seats won at a high-water mark in 2015. We fear that any perceived betrayal of manifesto commitments could well result in severe electoral defeats for Conservative candidates.
Remaining in a customs union or ‘customs arrangement’ with the EU will leave Britain unable to negotiate, sign and implement free trade deals with the rest of the world. This is one of the key economic benefits of Brexit and would lead to lower prices for consumers in the long term. This is a red line that must not be breached.
The British people have waited three years to enjoy the benefits of life outside of the EU and for a Conservative Government to prevent this would be an unforgivable betrayal. We urge the party to reverse this avoidable collision course with the British electorate, before it is too late. Ignore us at your peril.
Cllr. Bob Perry (Chairman Hornchurch & Upminster Conservative Association)
Cllr Lord Ampthill (Rother District Council)
Della Jones MBE (former Conservative County Councillor)
Delyth Miles (District & Town Councillor for Walton)
Ron Barker (Party member and former Executive Officer)
Michael A. St. Clair-George
Ian Hunter (Colchester Conservatives)
Margaret Chatham and Peter Chatham (Nuneaton Conservative Association)
Bexhill & Battle Conservative Association (Heathfield, Cross in Hand and Five Ashes Branch)
David J. Kelly (South Staffordshire Conservative Association)
Margaret (Trent Valley)
Mary S V Baxter (former Chairman Ledbury & Old Gore Branch, former Management Executive, North Herefordshire Association)
Angela C W Morris (Former constituency deputy chairman (political) and Branch Chairman)
John Wilkinson (Party member)
Guy Shimmin (Torquay Party member)
Giles Rowe (Party member)
David Rees (Party member)
HH The Lord Parmoor (President of Wycombe Conservative Association)
Ken Worthy (Chairman, Claygate and Hinchley Wood branch, Esher and Walton)
John Waine (Party member)
Fennie Strange (Party member)
Robert Flunder (Party member)
Peter Hole (Conservative activist and member)
Simon Hornshaw (Fylde Conservative Association)
Eric Lowe (Party member)
Annabelle Meek (Party member, former Deputy Chairman and Fundraiser)
Dr D Ratcliff (Party member)
S Ratliff (Party member)
Nigel Shaw (Party member)
Robert Johnson (Party Member)
Theresa Sargent (Party Member and volunteer)
Mrs. Anthea Kemp (Party member)
R A Baggott (Cotswold Association)
John Carpenter (Party member, Sleaford and North Hykeham)
Robert Sawle (Party member and former election agent)
Richard Reeves (Party member, Bexhill and Battle)
Diane Reeves (Party member, Bexhill and Battle)
Jeremy Knapp (South Suffolk)
Cynthia Beesley and Derek Beesley (Llandudno)
Dr David Seawright
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