Conservative Brexiteer Says Election Is A 'Gamble' But Necessary To Carry Out Brexit

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Conservative Party MP Mike Wood. (Courtesy of Mike Wood)
Conservative Party MP Mike Wood. (Courtesy of Mike Wood)

On Tuesday, the British House of Commons approved Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s request for an early general election this December, ahead of the new European Union-granted deadline for Brexit in early 2020.

The election could break the deadlock that has gripped Parliament since United Kingdom citizens voted to leave the EU in 2016.

But Conservative Party Member of Parliament Mike Wood, who supported Brexit before the referendum, admits the election is still “a gamble” for his party, which has mostly fallen in line behind Johnson in favor of Brexit.

Wood says the Conservative Party wants to impress upon voters that a victory in this election would give them a “clear mandate” to deliver Brexit.

“Three and a half years ago, we had the largest democratic exercise the U.K. has ever seen,” he says. “And frankly, my constituents want to know why, three and a half years later, we still haven't left.”

Wood’s constituency, Dudley South, voted overwhelmingly in favor of leaving the EU — with more than two-thirds of voters in favor of leave, compared to 51.9% across the U.K.

Interview Highlights 

On the upcoming election

“Parliament's been deadlocked for so long. There's a fundamental mismatch between a country that voted to leave and a House of Commons that is dominated by Remain-supporting members of Parliament who were really wanting to use any excuse to block any type of Brexit that most of our voters would recognize.

“And so actually, I think this going through an election, allowing the people again to make the decision themselves, decide what they want Parliament to look like, decide what they want to Brexit, is much less of a gamble than staggering on as we are with the kind of deadlock that we've seen in Parliament in recent months, which could only lead to further decline in trust and in politics. And of course, the economic damage that comes with further uncertainty and do delay.”

On the Conservative Party’s split over Brexit

“Not everybody in the Conservative Party was in favor of Brexit in the referendum. I mean, it was something that went across party lines, that's one of the reasons why we had the referendum rather than it being decided in the usual way through a general election. But pretty much all Conservative MPs now actually respect the decision that was taken. They have voted for Boris Johnson's deal with the European Union earlier this month and actually will be going into this election with a very clear message that there is a deal that's been secured. We think this is the best way of fulfilling the instruction voters gave us. And to do that, we need the numbers in Parliament to make sure that we can get it through.”

On what a Labour Party victory in this election would mean for Brexit

“I don't think Brexit would happen if Jeremy Corbyn is in Downing Street. It's likely that it would be a minority or coalition government propped up by the Liberal Democrats, who are obviously in favor of revoking Brexit altogether, propped up by the Scottish nationalists who want to block Brexit and want a second referendum on the breakup, the United Kingdom. So I think Brexit would be completely off the table if Jeremy Corbyn was in Downing Street after the 12th of December.”

On whether a no-deal Brexit is still possible

“Well, I mean, obviously, no deal is theoretically possible, but the prime minister is absolutely committed and he's got the support of the Conservative Party. I think both inside Parliament and outside the Parliament rally round the country to get backing for that deal. So I think the two alternatives that we're looking at in this election is either Boris Johnson is back as prime minister, in which case we'll be trying to get his deal through Parliament, or Jeremy Corbyn is heading up a ragtag government of say, various extreme left people who've never accepted the referendum and people who want to break up the United Kingdom, in which case Brexit will just be canceled altogether.”

On critics who believe that Brexit will hurt the economy in the U.K., hurt Britain's standing in the world and weaken the EU as countries like Russia and China gain power

“I spent seven years working [in] the European Parliament. I'm not anti-European. I see a lot of benefits of [the] European Union. But I also saw a lot of the frustration, a lot of the ways in which it's held our country back. So what I would say is we need to have more faith, more confidence in the abilities of our people and the abilities of our companies and of our country as a whole, that actually once we're moving beyond membership of the European Union, we're [a] more outward-looking country that's facing out to the whole world rather than just a small part of Western Europe. We can trade and cooperate with Europe, of course we can. But we also need to be stepping up closer cooperation with all parts of the world economically … in terms of security and defense, and I think that's actually more fitting for the role that the U.K. has played in the past and actually what we have to offer the world in the future.”

Alex Ashlock produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Todd Mundt. Francesca Paris adapted it for the web. 

This segment aired on October 30, 2019.

Brexit: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

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Jeremy Hobson Former Co-Host, Here & Now
Before coming to WBUR to co-host Here & Now, Jeremy Hobson hosted the Marketplace Morning Report, a daily business news program with an audience of more than six million.



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