Tom Hunt MP will be celebrating Brexit Day tonight
Whether you voted to leave or remain in the EU, today is without doubt momentous in its significance. For today is the day that finally, over three years since the EU referendum took place, we leave the EU, writes Tom Hunt.
The next 11 months will be about finalising the long-term relationship with the other 27 EU member states and it is true that nothing much will change this year. However it's very important not to downplay the significance of today because tonight we legally leave the EU making Brexit irreversible.
In some respects it feels like a lifetime ago but it was only a matter of months ago that Brexit really was in doubt. Had the Labour Party won the December General Election then I highly doubt that Brexit ever would have happened and if it had, it would likely have been a form of Brexit so soft and meaningless that it would barely have been worth leaving at all.
I know many people who didn't vote to leave the EU do not think that today should be celebrated and that celebrating "Brexit day" doesn't exactly help bring the country together. I have some sympathy with this view whilst at the same time believing that its hardly unreasonable for some people to want to mark the occasion bearing in mind the national and historical importance of the event.
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I must confess that I will be attending an event in Ipswich to mark the occasion. A pub in south west Ipswich! Funnily enough the same pub that Michael Gove visited during the General Election. I remember finding it quite amusing when a man leaving the toilets at the pub had to do a double glance to take in the fact that it was indeed Mr Gove devouring some fish and chips at lunch time.
In addition to attending this event I must also confess that I was given a badge by the Member of Parliament for South East Cornwall, Sheryll Murray, with the slogan "Got Brexit done" emblazoned on it. Pretty gimmicky I know but it did make one or two appearances on my overcoat I must admit.
Behind all this though is an important point. Brexit was one of the most important issues of the election campaign and getting it done was one of the major promises I made to residents. I'm glad that so soon after arriving in Parliament I've been able to personally vote through the democratic decision people made in 2016 and keep that promise.
I am now strongly of the view that is the time to move on and for the country to come together. For many of us how we voted in the referendum wasn't straight forward and it wasn't an easy decision. Though I ended up voting to leave the EU it was only a few months before the day of the referendum that I made my mind up and I know it was the same for many. How we voted in the referendum should not define us as individuals. I for one did not come into politics to bang on endlessly about Brexit.
Yes, as someone who voted to leave the EU, I'm clearly glad that today we leave. And as a democrat I've always felt that its vitally important for our shared democracy that the referendum result is honoured. However, the main reason why I'm excited about today is it finally allows us to move on as a country and hopefully put the division of the past few years behind us.
Whether you voted leave or remain, whether you're a "leaver" or a "remainer", we all now have a vested interest in our country dealing with any of the challenges presented by Brexit whilst also fully exploiting all the opportunities.
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