BREXIT is “slipping through our fingers”, according to New Forest West MP Sir Desmond Swayne.
The pro-Leave Conservative has twice voted for the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement, fearful that if it does not pass then the UK might end up not leaving the EU at all.
He wrote on his website at the weekend: “I anticipate that parliament will on Monday seize the legislative initiative and start putting different soft Brexit options to the Commons.
“This has not happened in living memory so we are in completely uncharted territory.
“Taken together with the agreement to prolong our EU membership, I am beginning to get the feeling that the dream of Brexit, this once-in-46-year opportunity, is slipping through our fingers.”
His comments came as more than an estimated 1-million people – including a contingent from the New Forest – marched through London on Saturday demanding a vote on the withdrawal deal, and an online petition to revoke Brexit grew to more than 5.5-million.
Majorities in the New Forest and Christchurch voted to leave in the referendum, although more than 19,000 from the area’s three constituencies have signed the petition to remain, according to the parliamentary website.
Projected polls last year showed most locally still back Brexit, however, which is scheduled to happen on Friday 29th March – potentially on no-deal terms without government action.
In readiness, Hampshire County Council has spent £200,000 on preparing a section of main road for parking lorries if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
Work is being carried out on 5km of the A31 dual carriageway between Winchester and Alresford as part of Operation Transmission to avoid tailbacks on the M27 from Portsmouth ferries. It involves closing one lane in each direction as vehicle holding areas.
Cllr Rob Humby, HCC cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “These works will provide the necessary capacity so that south Hampshire doesn’t grind to a halt if there are any hold ups at the Port of Portsmouth or extra freight traffic diverting to Portsmouth.”
Sir Desmond said he was uncertain whether Mrs May would put her deal for a third time to the House of Commons without confidence it can pass.
Referring to her televised statement last Wednesday, he said voters shared her “frustration” at efforts being undermined by, he said, her lack of a majority which she lost after calling the 2017 general election.
But Sir Desmond added: “I wonder what they expected when they elected a hung parliament, and a Prime Minister with no majority to deliver the Brexit that they had voted for?”
He pointed out that unless the government introduces a statutory instrument to change the law, the UK would automatically leave the EU on 29th March.
He concluded: “So, she has the power to leave the EU on 29th March – which she promised we would 108 times in Parliament. All she has to is withhold that statutory instrument this week.
“Will she? Is she really on the side of the people? Actions speak louder than words.”