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Bishop's Stortford's MP Mark Prisk says second Brexit referendum would be 'divisive'

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MP Mark Prisk (7861456)
MP Mark Prisk (7861456)

Bishop’s Stortford’s MP Mark Prisk is still hoping for a deal this week to ensure Brexit goes ahead as he restated his opposition to a People’s Vote to end the parliamentary impasse.

The former business minister’s own preferred solution - the so-called Malthouse Compromise - failed to win support in the House of Commons last week.

He said on Friday, after two days of critical votes at Westminister: “I don’t know what will happen next week, but if we can get a deal agreed and put to the EU summit next week then this issue can be resolved.”

However, on Monday Commons Speaker John Bercow ruled out the government holding a third vote on Theresa May’s previously rejected Brexit agreement if the motion remains "substantially the same".

While Mr Prisk insists he wants the UK to leave the European Union with an agreement on future trade, he chose not to vote to take a ‘no deal’ departure off the table in a series of amendments last week. Instead, he toed the Government line.

On Thursday evening, he voted against Totnes’ Independent MP Sarah Woolaston’s amendment to request an extension to Article 50 so another public vote can be held on Brexit. She was defeated by 334 votes to 85.

He also voted to defeat an amendment by Labour’s Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell to give control of the Brexit negotiations to the Commons after an extension with a cut-off date of June 30. Her vote was defeated by 314 votes to 311.

Mr Prisk also opposed an amendment by Hilary Benn, the Labour member for Leeds Central, for indicative votes in the Commons, which was defeated by 314 to 312.

He took the same tack with a Labour amendment, backed by leader Jeremy Corbyn, to extend Article 50 to avoid leaving on March 29 without an agreement and find parliamentary time to establish a majority for a different approach, which was defeated by 318 votes to 302.

Mr Prisk did not take part in the vote for the motion, which was carried by 412 votes to 202 for the government to agree a one-off Article 50 extension with the EU if parliament passes a resolution approving the negotiated withdrawal agreement.

Mr Prisk said: “I voted against the proposed amendments because I want us to leave in an orderly way, to respect the decision of the referendum. All the other amendments were proposed by people who have been very clear that they want to frustrate that.

“I thought it was especially interesting that a majority of all MPs voted against a second referendum.”

Mr Prisk, who has represented the Hertford and Stortford constituency since 2001, said: “I am wary of pushing this whole issue out too far as it's just putting off the problem. Business and people need to know where they stand. That’s one of the reasons I remain doubtful about a second referendum. Most constituents who write to me have strongly held and set views which haven’t changed at all. So even if we could get the Commons to agree to such a move and then to what the question would be, there’s every chance that we would find ourselves back at this point in six months time, after a bitter and divisive referendum. So on balance, I am not inclined to support a second referendum.”

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