'Keep calm and wait for Brexit deal', says West Norfolk MP
North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham has called for calm and insisted he remains confident of a Brexit deal, despite mounting pressure on the government.
Dozens of West Norfolk activists joined hundreds of thousands of people taking part in a People’s Vote march in London at the weekend.
And there is growing speculation that prime minister Theresa May could face an imminent challenge to her position, amid fierce criticism of her handling of the talks with the European Union (EU).
But, speaking at a Federation of Small Businesses meeting held in Lynn on Friday afternoon, Sir Henry backed his party leader and attacked what he described as “alarmist” reporting of the negotiations in the national media.
He argued that “quite remarkable” progress had been made in negotiating a withdrawal agreement and claimed much of the reporting of the talks had been sensationalised.
He said: “People have got to stay calm. They have got to be patient.
“My prediction is there won’t be a summit in November but there will be one in December or January and we will have a deal.
“There may have to be more compromise but I am a pragmatist.”
Ahead of weekend press reports suggesting some backbench MPs were seeking to unseat Mrs May, potentially as early as this week, Sir Henry, who campaigned for Leave in the 2016 referendum, dismissed calls for a change of Conservative leader.
He argued that anyone who succeeded Mrs May would face the same challenges in the talks with the EU as she has.
And he also rejected the demand for another public vote on the issue as “completely daft”, arguing that such a move would undermine the government’s negotiating position.
He added: “If we agreed there should be (a second referendum), the EU wouldn’t give us anything at all.”
Sir Henry’s comments came on the eve of the People’s Vote march in London.
Organisers have claimed up to 700,000 people took part – a figure that would make it the largest political protest to be staged since the 2003 march against the invasion of Iraq.
Local campaigners say around 500 people from Norfolk travelled to the capital to take part, including dozens from West Norfolk, who boarded trains from Lynn and Downham on Saturday morning.
Rob Colwell, who chairs the Norfolk For Europe campaign group, said one train was so full of supporters no-one else could board by the time it reached Ely.
And Josie Ratcliffe, of the South West Norfolk Liberal Democrats, said: “It was an honour to march in London with so many Norfolk people that are very worried about what Brexit will do to our NHS, food and medicine supplies.”
Campaigners have also announced that the former Labour cabinet minister, and prominent Remain campaigner, Lord Adonis will address a community meeting in Lynn on November 14.